Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Oh to be brave....

So today me and myself were thinking together. It's never an unusual thing, for me to be thinking together with myself... I'm digressing.

So I was thinking and wondering how it must feel to not be afraid. Like, really not afraid, but brave, full of courage all the time. You see, I do not know how that actually works. I am afraid. I am afraid often.

There are, of course, different degrees of "afraid
Now before I list some of these I would like to make a disclaimer. I am not judging any of these fears. I believe that they are real, and that we all face something we are afraid of at some point. However, some of these items are a touch bizarre.
  • The fear of number 13- Triskadekaphobia
  • The fear of anything new- Neophobia (Okay, I can relate to that...)
  • Asymmetrical things- Asymmetriphobia (I would like to know how this was determined. How did someone figure out that this was an actual fear??)
  • Northern Lights- Auroraphobia (I always just thought they were B-E-A-Utiful)
  • Politicians- Politicophobia (Not looking to start a political debate here, but this one is fascinating)
  • The Pope- Papaphobia (Really? He's looks like he could be a grandpa!)
  • Ugliness-Cacophobia (Oh goodness, I worry about that every morning when I get out of bed and see my hair!)
AND my favorite:
  • The fear of long words- Hippopotomonstrosesquippedaliphobia or Sesquipedalophobia (Maybe this is a joke, I don't know, however, I literally spent about five minutes laughing at this. The fact that the longest word in history is used to describe the fear of long words? A joke or complete irony? I don't know, but it made me snort!)
Then there are every day fears:
  • There's the "Oh my word, I failed a test" fear.
  • The, "Oh goodness, are they going to like me or hate me" fear.
  • And, what I like to call, the back of the knees aching fear.
The third fear listed is the one that I experience often. Most things that I am afraid of fit into this category: Roller Coasters (although I still do ride them), looking down from tall places, looking UP at tall places, and I could probably continue.

I actually thought of the following story several times throughout today. When I think about it, even now, I actually still feel my heart beating faster and faster, and the pain in the back of my knees returns. I can actually picture this moment. Many of you have heard this before, but I am going to tell it again.

It was just over seven years ago. I was in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. The sky was the bluest blue, the air hot, and the water ice cold. I was at the top of a cliff. Not standing, but actually cowering in fear. I had a friend next to me. Not forcing me, or making me DO anything, but just sitting with me as I debated the life choice I was about to make. Do I jump the 45ish feet off the cliff into the water, OR, do I take the much safer, more cautious, reasonable and grown up choice and walk away...forever...always to regret not doing it?

Seven years later a couple of questions run through my mind: Would I do it now if I had the chance, and would I still debate the choice in my mind?

For those of you who have this same problem you will understand my next question? WHY do I do I debate doing something that I know I really WANT to do?
I am afraid.
Oh yes. Afraid.
Back of the knees aching.
Shortness of breath.
And then, there's also the anticipation, and excitement of what could come next.

So the choice was weighing on me. I was running out of time sitting on top of the cliff. The dinner bell would be ringing. There would be the hike bike to the campsite. There would be the loading into the bus, and driving away never to return- and then there would be the dread and disappointment that I would experience knowing I missed out.

I said okay to my friend sitting with me and we moved closer to the edge of the cliff, where I resumed a seated position. Then without warning, I stood up, walked to the edge and jumped. I took a deep breath, grabbed my nose, and kept my legs straight. I jumped. I didn't look down, pass go, cry for mommy. I just- jumped. When I hit the water, and then made my way to the top of the lake, my heart was beating even faster. I was exhilarated. The moment I came up I threw my arms in the air and yelled. (Okay, it was cheesy but I yelled, "I love California!")

I would like to say from that day on I never was afraid again, but that would be a lie. I am afraid still every day. And I've decided that's not going to end. There will be fear. But then, there will the excitement of stepping over the fear. There will be the new things learned, the new challenges met, the belief in myself because I was afraid, but I did it anyways. In those moments I hope that I can still throw my hands in the air and yell, "I love California!" or maybe something else similar.

Even better though than yelling, is the peace and the satisfaction that comes knowing that I did not let anything slow me down, especially something silly like being afraid. So, from the outside you may not see it, but I will have my hands raised and I will be yelling.

"You become brave by doing brave acts." - Aristotle

1 comment:

Tina said...

Love this story and the quote at the end fits perfectly.