Fear itself

February 19, 2005 at 11:58 pm 6 comments

It occurs to me that fear has sometimes held me back, and I’m wondering how to decide whether or when that’s a good thing for an Outlaw.

Last summer, for instance, my honey and I came pretty close to drowning in a rafting accident. We thought we were going with friends for a leisurely float, but unexpected flooding caused us to crash into a tree when the creek overflowed its banks. I was pinned underwater by the raft and the current, and my honey was thrown fifty feet downstream. We both got out fine, but we were luckier than I care to think about.

I’m scared now to try any kind of whitewater rafting, because I KNOW what could happen. I have some idea of what it would be like, to drown, trapped under the rushing water that’s much stronger than me. And I don’t ever want to go through it!

But then, there are things that I’ll try that would scare the bejeepers out of other people. Holding that python around my neck last summer, for instance (that was cool). Hopping onto the back of my honey’s motorcycle on our first date. Doing public speaking on a frequent basis.

On the other hand, I’ll NEVER try skydiving, and I simply cannot face most roller coasters or gravity rides at theme parks. Lots of people love ‘em. Not me – I really think I’d pass out from fright if I tried one.

One day a few years back, though, I was at a theme park, and decided to push my own envelope, so to speak. I went off alone for a bit, to prove I could do it without being dared. First I took a gondola ride around the park – this thing isn’t your average ski lift, it’s much higher off the ground. Great view from up there. Hated the sickening jolts as the pulley wheels bumped over the supports now and then. Scary, but exhilarating too.

Then I put myself onto a roller coaster. Not a real scary one, but scarier than I’d ever done before. Sat in the front car, too. Thought I was going into the lake at one point in the ride. Screamed in excitement. Had such a blast I went on it again, right then and there.

It was a very good thing to do. I walked taller afterward. I still don’t feel ready to face the super-fast legs-hanging-free twisting-loop-de-loop three-G-force coasters, but I know I’m not a total wuss, either.

Challenging myself again, a couple of months after my raft crash, I was at a pool with some friends, and this pool had a fabulous, huge waterslide. Very twisty-turny. Now, laugh if you want, but I was scared to try it. The rushing water spooked me. But I still wanted to see how it felt, so I jumped up and said, “C’mon, you guys!”

As I climbed to the top and prepared to push off, they all yelled, “Lie down flat! You’ll go a LOT faster!”

They were right. A LOT faster. But scary to me, although they couldn’t know what I was dealing with, because the water rushing over my face felt like fighting that creek again, and because, going down feet first and flat on my back, I couldn’t see where I was going. Like being at the creek’s mercy again. Loss of control.

And I think, for me, that’s part of the problem. I HATE loss of control. For instance, I don’t want to skydive, but I’d love to learn to fly a small airplane. Now, that water slide was a heck of a lot of fun. I went on it about six times, I liked it so much. I just held my nose and the rushing water over my face didn’t bother me much at all. I was ready to face that much. I guess that was courage in a small way.

No doubt about it, an Outlaw needs courage. And courage means doing what you fear, in spite of the fear – because you haven’t overcome the fear yet. If you’re not scared, at least a little bit, why would you need courage anyway?

Conscious courage will get you far, and necessity will accomplish even more. Fear itself can’t stop us if we won’t let it. If I learned to fly that plane, and then had to bail out – well, I guess I’d have to draw on that necessity-type courage to see me through. And I imagine I’d come back changed for the better, if I was still in one piece more or less.

But, when getting together a team of Outlaws, it might be best to make sure you balance out the skydiving wussies, like me, with a former Airborne fellow or two. You can sign me up for the public speaking jobs instead.

Conclusions: Let’s each start with what we do best, and develop our courage in other pursuits as and when we can. I think that readiness goes a long way in this regard. So does encouragement from those who aren’t so scared (anymore) of skydiving or speechmaking.

And, let’s always remember to do at least one thing every week, or month, that does scare us. Courage workout, if you will. In fact, I’m overdue for one of those. Whitewater rafting, anyone?


Entry filed under: Uncategorized.

The tragedy of history Atlas is shrugging again – and he is us!

6 Comments Add your own

  • 1. ghetto puppet  |  February 20, 2005 at 5:19 pm

    Good post.

    BTW, stuff that scares you doesn’t necessarily have to be feats of physical daring, does it?

    Because I’m pretty shy – for me, it’s scary enough to just go meet new people 😀

    A rollercoaster, skydiving – childs play 🙂

  • 2. Taran Jordan (Lightning)  |  February 20, 2005 at 7:22 pm

    Hey, puppet, thanks!

    You got my point – we’re all scared of different things. For me, it’s usually physical, especially heights and extreme speed.

    Meeting new people, now…I do that for a living! Piece of cake!

    But, when we get out there and do it – well, if nothing else, we sure feel better afterward. Even if we totally bomb out in the attempt – we know we attempted.

    So…good luck meeting some new people one day soon, eh? 😉

  • 3. Prof  |  February 21, 2005 at 1:16 am

    Lightning, do you suppose you could add an RSS feed to your blog?

    It would make it easier for readers to keep up with when there have been new postings or comments.



  • 4. Taran Jordan (Lightning)  |  February 21, 2005 at 9:43 am

    Welcome, L Vallance, and thanks for reading!

    I’d been meaning to put the XML feed on this blog, so your post got me to do it at last…glad you asked!

    I tried RSS, but experienced some difficulty there. However, I now have a link on the blog to my Atom XML feed, and I’ve also not got it set to notify Weblogs.com of new posts.

    Hope this helps! Thanks again.

  • 5. Nedda  |  February 22, 2005 at 11:42 pm


    I took the plunge on that same roller coaster several years back. Once was enough for me! 😀

    As always, good stuff…

  • 6. Taran Jordan (Lightning)  |  March 2, 2005 at 8:31 pm

    Thanks for the moral support, Nedda! It’s great to see you here. 🙂


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