Saturday, June 21, 2008

Nothing to Fear

Today I took the family once again to the local water park, which is always an amazing bonding time, good excercise, and a lot of fun. I also use the opportunity, whenever we go, to face my greatest fear: I'm terrified of heights.

I don't know WHY I'm terrified of heights. Maybe it's vertigo, maybe it's the time I fell from a treehouse when I was kid. Either way, there it is. A paralyzing and annoying fear.

I say it's an annoying fear because fear limits us. It keeps us from experiencing something in life that might actually be good for us. If we allow fear to control us it limits our growth as a person. Fear can be our built-in excuse for NOT doing something. Fear keeps us in a safe, comfortable, boring zone.

As I climbed the four-story tower, the wind whipped past. I could see how much higher I got with every step, with a view of the ground between the grooves of the wood and the open rails. Looking up made me dizzy and made me realize how much further I had to go. Looking down made me nauseous and made me realize how far I had to drop. The entire structure shook with every screaming adventurer takig the plunge. Twice I stopped, assessed the situation, the value versus cost analysis. Twice I strongly considered turning back, and prepared my speech for my family who was waving to me from the ground.

I considered my eldest daughter's parting words: "Daddy, don't die."

And yet I finished the climb, pulling myself up step by step with both hands on the rail for balance and courage. It was me and the lifeguard, alone.

I walked to the rail to see how steep the drop was, and as expected, it was so steep that I could not see the entire slide from my vantage point. It was waaaaay up there.

Finally sitting down in the chilling rushing water, the lifeguard said I could go whenever I was ready. I wasn't. I looked behind me, hoping for an impatient guy standing behind whom I could give up my place in line to. No such luck. It was just me. I inched forward, dangling my feet over the abyss, the water force nearly pushing me through.

And in that final moment, I thought, why not?

I had already probably done the scariest part in the climb itself.

And it would all be over in a few seconds.

And if I allowed a water slide to paralyze me, how would I be able to ever face real situations in life? Like one I'm facing right now (more on that hopefully very shortly).

That last idea gave me the courage I needed to take a deep breath, cross my arms and let go.
Life's not meant to be a list of do's and don'ts, will's and won'ts.

Sometimes, it's just do's and will's.

Even something as trivial as the big waterslide means something bigger, and we all know that deep inside. It means choices: to live or to watch, to fear or to conquer, to jump or to cower, to experience life or read about it.

Which choice do you think would God have us make?

1 comment:

sacred vapor said...

My fear is not heights, but swimming in deep water. If I know that my feet can't touch bottom, I start to freak out.

So, my challenge is to conquer that this summer. Wish me luck.

paul