When did the thought of doing something new become an occasion we were more afraid of than challenged by?
I’ve been thinking about fear and its ability to paralyze a person. How many opportunities do we deny ourselves because we are afraid of what may happen if we take that step in a new direction? In many ways, the last year has been very scary for me. There have been surgeries and diagnoses that have frightened me, yet I have learned how to contend with medical situations which are out of my control – local anesthesia and information. I have made the choice to end my marriage, despite the anxiety I have about raising three happy, well adjusted boys in two households. Ultimately, though, I know that the condition “happy” has to begin with me. I committed to buying the marital home even though the financial responsibilities scare the crap out of me. Optimism, a hardcore work ethic and good credit will hopefully help me to manage this responsibility.
These are big things – health and family and finances… I’ve contended with these situations because I had to, options were limited and I needed to take action with the belief that tomorrow would bring better things. The certainty of not doing something must be considered as potentially deathly as taking a risk, right?
I’ve just returned from a wonderful vacation where I consciously did two things that frightened me. The first, pictured above, was a
leap jump off a bridge. Prior to my trip to the beach, I had attended a party at a friend’s lake house fully intending to jump into the lake from his deck, upper level, of course. The day of the party I absolutely bailed on that idea due to fear. Even the lower deck was too high for my comfort and I ultimately ended up sliding into the water rather than leaping. Fail. This bridge was my chance for redemption and I embraced it. The shriek I emitted as I pushed off the bridge was my body’s shout out to the universe – my “Hello, I’m here!”
The second scary thing I did was a bit more foolhardy, I rode my son’s bicycle in the pitch dark, feeling like a 14 y/o. It was so dark I couldn’t see my hand in front of my face, a sensation I enjoy when I’m on my feet in my home, but not when I’m in an unfamiliar place, riding a bike I’d never ridden before. (With a helmet, of course.) I was really scared! Tree branches were a genuine concern, and there were other unexpected obstacles, too, like misplaced telephone poles between the curb and the sidewalk that were a real peril. And the word that kept running through my head was “reckless.” But, was it? Really? I mean, I rode slowly, using caution. I was mostly sober. Yet I kept returning to the question “Why am I inviting fear unnecessarily into my life?”
Maybe the better question is, “Why aren’t I?”