Monday, August 8, 2011

What are you afraid of?

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?"


  1. Mostly sober? I guess you just answered my question before I read that line.

  2. I was whistling the way...

  3. Anonymous #2 - No coincidence that Aloysius was present for both of these dares, wouldn't you say? Perhaps if he had been at DeWitt Lake I would have jumped...

  4. I have that same jumping fear. I love water and will swim in water no matter how deep but I can't jump.