Fear

I’ve tried to more deeply consider the meaning of the word “adventure”; what it ultimately means to my soul, what it might hold for me in the future, and what I can do to cultivate more of it. I’ve been working harder lately to try and treat more things in my life as such. Getting-up before the sun to layer-up, put a full-to-bursting backpack in my truck, drive to the base of a mountain where I have no cell phone service, and then hike my way up a near-1200-foot elevation change.

The reward? Outwardly, not much. Near-freezing temperatures, winds whipping over the top of the mountain at nearly 20 miles per hour, and a lonely view from the top. But, at the same time, the lonely nature of the peak was crushed under the impressive view of the New Hampshire landscape and coming to understand that the only thing that kept me from doing any of this earlier was simple: fear. Not just your run-of-the-mill “this is kind of scary, I’ve never done this before by myself” sort of fear, but the irrational “what if I get lost or hurt or killed, what will happen” sort of fear too. It took me basically the entire drive up to the mountain to calm those fears and to make it safe for me to feel that way. I didn’t try to banish it, but instead I re-framed it and let it fuel my hunger.

“BE AFRAID!” came the cry from the back of my mind.

“No, I will not fear! I seek ADVENTURE!!” came the reply.

I was far from alone and far from danger. I rationalized: The mountain is situated in the middle of a declared national forest zone. It’s the Fall season, meaning that hikers will be around and available if anything goes wrong. I have the skills, knowledge, and tools available to make my situation work no matter what I find myself in. I have food, additional dry layers, and way more water than I need all in my backpack. I am prepared.

In responding to my fear, I noticed that that particular part of me became dormant. I became present. I was able to take in everything that was around me: the rustling trees, the quiet flow of the small water flow down the slope, the subtle feel of the stone as I tread upon it. It brought me back.

I beamed brightly during the entire descent and the on the whole drive back to the apartment. I had overcome something that I had believed was an irreconcilable part of me: the debilitating trepidation that has prevented me from doing anything meaningful to me. I was able to prove myself wrong.

I think we’re all victims of our own negative beliefs about our capabilities as people. I think we’re more afraid that we are capable beings and that to be visible as such means that we will likely have to either show up for others in our expanded capacities or to be more comfortable flexing our might in those areas or arenas that we might have otherwise avoided.
The question that comes to mind for me in this case is “Why am I afraid of showing up in this new capacity?”

Am I more afraid that individuals will take advantage of me? Make fun of my lack of skill or finesse? Or am I more afraid that I have allowed myself to squander some of the best years of my life out of the fear of being seen as more than I was?

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