Life has an ironic way about it. Yesterday morning I was talking with a friend on our way up to the mountain & the subject of fear came up. I mentioned that I feel afraid often & she chuckled “Yeah right” and wouldn’t believe me until I convinced her.
I am a lot like my grandma. I inherited most of my qualities from her. Some of them I am happy for. I got my artistic & musical side from her, her snarky sense of humor & mischievousness, and a love of card games I suppose. On the darker side, she was fearful of so much that I saw it paralyze her, I saw it make her neurotic & paranoid. I see a lot of that fearfulness in me as well.
I recognized it early on while I was in high school & made a determined effort not to be weak & let fear win. So I did things that scared me. I became a fire fighter despite being told I was too weak to do it, I rappelled from helicopters & took up climbing even though I’m really afraid of heights, I go backpacking even though I’m scared of mountain lions, I learned how to snowboard even though I was afraid to fail.
I’ve gotten pretty used to challenging myself in this way. I feel that I mitigate the scariness by becoming a “safety nerd”. I got my wilderness EMT, I’m studying avalanche safety, I visualize different scenarios to make sure I’m ready to help in any situation. My mantra is “Always be the rescuer, never the rescued.”
So last night, on the heels of this conversation about fear & bravery, I found myself on a spontaneous caving adventure. We explored the Arnold Ice Cave, in which you can travel about a mile in through a lava tube. It is an amazing place & while I was busy hyperventilating, pages from The Hobbit kept flashing through my mind.
It turns out I might be a little claustrophobic. I had my suspicions when we had to squeeze through a little wormhole in the rocks & my head started spinning. All I could really think about was earthquakes & the ceiling caving in. I tried really hard to get a grip, but all I could muster was to cry silently while trying to comprehend what the word “irrational” meant in this situation. As I clambered over piles of rocks that had at one time fit into the ceiling above me, my fears seemed pretty logical. At one point one of my adventure partners offered to head back with me (apparently my sniffling wasn’t as silent as I had hoped) but out of simple stubborn pride I said I’d go on. We finally reached the end (HALLELUJAH!) & I set a land speed record heading back to the mouth of the cave.
I relate this story for one reason only. There are so many inspiring people out there writing stories about their amazing adventures. It would be easy to read all these articles & wish you were as brave as they are. I’m just saying, maybe you are.
That cave was amazing… Ice formations, huge caverns, tons of history & science. Sometimes you just have to push yourself into doing new things even if you think you might puke in a cave.