So I’m at Wilson’s Creek NC, a beautiful rapid filled gorge where you can swim and jump into rapids and enjoy the day in a beautiful but crowded landscape. I’m standing on the edge of a rock looking down over a deep pool that I’ve seen kids jump and dive in. I’m going to jump. But I don’t jump. I’m scared. Then I get on myself because I have jumped off of great heights into water before. I used to do flips off of high boards, I was a canopy tour guide for Gods sake, but I feel hesitation and fear over a 6 foot leap into water. I noticed that I was giving myself shit, I was judging the fear. I even thought, “so much for living fearless!” A phrase my friend and I picked up for when we do something stupid, but somehow we convinced ourselves that it was good to live without fear.
I mean we are told, even in metaphysical circles, that fear is bad. Fear holds us back. Fear is False Evidence Appearing Real. So as I was ridiculing myself for having a normal reaction for jumping into the unknown it occurred to me that 1. I knew I was still going to jump, and 2. Fear is not such a bad thing. So I stood there in my fear. I knew I would be okay, and I knew it’s a normal reaction to jumping like that since my brain knows I can not fly and that I can not see what’s below the surface of the water. I decided to meet my fear and to ask it why it was there, since I have done a lot of crazy, reckless and badass things in my life. Why now?
Here is what I learned from fear. Fear is a gift just like joy or love or any other emotion. If I did not experience some fear, it means I have not learned anything on my journey here. I fear getting burned because I have been before. I fear going into a creepy, windowless van with a dude named Uncle sticky because I have heard of such horrors. I know who and what I value most by the fear I feel at the thought of losing them. It helps me prioritize. I also know what I feel is unacceptable treatment of my fellow man and nature beings by the fear I feel when I see our basic human rights being manipulated away from us by our current administration. I always thought of fear as something to fight, something that made me weak, and something that held me back. But like anything else, it’s in moderation. Fear can be a great friend. Fear can make me stay away from a dangerous situation like driving on icy roads when I don’t need to. Fear can remind me that no matter how much I like someone, if they have drug problems, I can quickly fall into my old co-dependent cycles. Fear reminds me how good I feel not smoking, and to never do it again. Fear can be gentle if you listen.
Fear gives us pause to consider, is this right for me. It also with often, like anger, tells us when something is definitely NOT right for us. Fear lets me take the time to weigh the consequences. In this case, I know they are minimal and I choose to take the action and plunge into the water. That moment of fear gripping me tighter all the way down, until I submerge refreshed and come up unscathed and victorious.
Fear also gives us all the opportunity to be courageous. Without fear to conquer how would we ever know we have moved farther into our journey? Fear also gives us the opportunity to look it in the eyes, and say, I know, but I’m going to do this because I want to, because I have to! The grand moment we let go of fear’s hand and leap into the unknown, there is this space where we recognize, “I’m doing it!” and that moment, that is breathtaking and priceless. It may be for milliseconds like in my jump. And if may last for years, like in my business. But it is beautiful and if it were not from my fears, my programming from past events, then I would have nothing to rise above. No real challenge. Because if you don’t feel fear, how can you feel you have really accomplished anything on a profound level? Everything I am most proud of was something that scared me shitless. It was not good or bad that I was fearful; it was not good or bad that I felt courageous in a situation that may not elicit any emotion from anyone else. But it was my experience and it was heightened by fear, fear saying to slow down, to be careful, and show me images of all that could go wrong, and I thanked my fear, and went forward regardless.
I’m glad I took the time to really get to know my fear, why it was there, and what it is here to teach me. I’m sure it will be back, and over things that are of far greater consequence. I will listen, like the advice of a good friend, but in the end, I’m going to do whatever I want despite what fear tells me.