Fear

Dancing with Confidence, Tripping Over the Shoes of Fear

Upon walking out of a Wegmans the other night—a Rochester based grocer Megan and I have come to fall in love with—we observed ferocious, grey clouds pouring into town from every direction, pari passu, slowly and ominously withering the last of our daylight. Directly above us were some stars, a few clouds, a slight breeze, but nothing more. It was peaceful.

That’s how I feel now. I’m entering “Calm before the storm” mode. That’s what I’m choosing to call it, anyway. Right now, life is serotinally peaceful; I know it wont last long, and that’s okay. Classes will start and homework will pile. It’s what I signed up for.

Around me are weathered students, all of whom waiting for the storm to begin. As a Junior, I’ve seen some weather too; however, I still doubt myself. I don’t know why.

Like an iced-kicker, I psych myself out of the confidence I know I possess.

Philosophy Steve

The other day, over the telephone, my uncle said something that stuck with me. He said “Kevin, the unknown fools us.”

I stopped him in the middle of his next sentence: “Steve, that was deep, man.”

It’s true, isn’t it? The unknown fools us. It grabs ahold of our fears and lies to us; it calls us names and exploits our insecurities. Call it what you want—a lack of control, a lack of confidence, whatever the insecurity may be—the unknown seeps in and plants fear.

My confidence moved me to the other side of the North American continent in pursuit of the best education I could attain. So yes, I possess confidence. I’m no Ron Burgandy, but you know, I’m getting there. (It’s all in the mustache?)

Yet, truth be told, my doubts creep in. Butterflies show up from time to time. They fly around in my stomach, sometimes regressing into caterpillars, causing me to cowardly hide underneath fallen leaves.

Three Important Reminders

  1. Insecurities are not concrete, but a fluid which evaporates with wisdom and experience. Don’t define yourself by your temporal troubles.
  2. Fear is a great motivator and a terrible bed-mate. Keep her off the pillow and away from your dreams.
  3. “The unknown fools us,” but only if you let it. Lead the dance and kick off the shoes of fear.

Whether we want it to or not, most major decisions (changes) require a little uncertainty, a toe-to-toe dance with the unknown. What if, instead of running away, we tried to lead the dance?

I’ve never been a good dancer, but I guess I can give it a shot.

How about you?

That One Time the Roof Caved in on Me

Memories from my past bubble to the surface every now and then. At times, they feel larger than life—tall-tale even, like in Big Fish. Since taking Psychology 101 last year, some memories have become suspect.

There’s this one memory I have; the one where the ceiling caves in on me. Until recently, I wasn’t sure it was real. I asked my older brother about it. In the memory, he’s the one who carries me to safety.

Quickly, here’s the memory: 

It’s an old white house in Paso Robles, California. Two stories, maybe, just one. I’m eight years old or so and scared to death of the Daddy Long Leg spiders that inhabit every corner of every room in the house. Everything is dirty and dusty. I hate it here.

“Kevin,” he yells. I wake up. The air is thick with dust and drywall; broken wood is everywhere. In fact, my bed is covered with it. I look over to my brother, standing beside the bed. He’s laughing. “You slept through it,” he says and laughs again.

Everything is confusing; I’m paralyzed with fear and can’t move. The next thing I know, my brother is carrying me out of our room and into the kitchen where everybody is listening to music and eating popsicles.

Party

My early years were quite… different than most. After the parents split up, my dad moved us around a lot. Life got weird. Shady, actually, is a better term.

We were those obnoxious, trashy neighbors. The ones with the loud, late night parties, or fights that ended with clothes on the lawn and the cops being called. That was us.

Sorry neighbors.

“They were partying in the next room,” my brother said. Last year, we reminisced about our childhood and I asked him about this event. “We came out of the room,” he continued, “covered from head to toe in drywall dust. No one knew it happened. I think it was the music that caused the ceiling to fall. The bass.”

“And I slept through it?”

“Yeah,” he laughed, “you slept right through it. I thought you were dead.”

Guardian Angles 

It seems a little self-absorbed to claim this event as a miracle of God. Honestly, I’m really not that important. It could’ve just been dumb luck.

Still though, I think back to the broken wood in and around my bed—some pieces large and quite dangerous. All I know is that the ceiling caved in, one ugly night in Paso Robles, California, and two young boys were spared.

In times like these, I’m reminded that I need to live my life in a worthy way. Not because I survived my childhood or because a ceiling caved in on me, but because I was born at all.

Life is an opportunity and everyday among it a unique gift. Don’t wait for tomorrow or you may just get crushed to death by your own ceiling.

“If I live the life I’m given, I won’t be scared to die.”

What are your thoughts? Do you have any good memories from your childhood you suspect are false? What is your response to living life as a gift? 

Fearing Fear and Then Punching Fear in The Face

origin_2768351879I remember standing in line at Space Mountain, Disneyland—six years old or so. My older brother and sister were there, maybe my mom. Yeah, definitely my mom.

Knees buckling. Tears building. Fear grabbing.

Space Mountain? Could there be so terrible a place? My brother was pushing me along in line; this was not a good sign. He was always trying to get rid of me. What evil plan had he concocted now?

Escape. I had to. Closer and closer we inched, past the TVs and the red, terrifying flashing lights. Finally, it came. The exit door. After an hour, we were so close to getting on the ride.

I could just do it, I thought, go on the ride. Would I really fall out?

I looked left and saw the exit sign, then to the right towards a deeper entrance to the ride, then to my brother who was evilly nodding his head. Now or never, I thought.

Tears bottled up, I went for it. Running as fast as I could towards the door, kids laughed behind me and I heard my brother yell. I bursted through the exit; bright-white concrete sun blinded my eyes and I collapsed on concrete—crying my head off.

New Fears, Old Chum

For those of you who may have missed the news, Rochester, New York is now officially in our sights. Scholarships and grants came through in a big way from the University there. We’ll be moving sometime in summer.

See kids, dreams do come true.

It’s bittersweet, really. We’ll be leaving San Luis Obispo—SLO town—and I love it here. I grew up here. I moved away for a number of years; since we, my wife and I, moved back, our time here has been well spent and well loved.

Old chums, new pals, boogie boards, farmers market, breakfast burritos—reconnecting.

All good things come to an end? I guess; new things can be good too. Also scary.

Fear, get out of my face. 

It’s too easy to fall into fear’s trap. We listen to the negative over the positive; we cave in and take the easy way out. The greatest, most terrible side-effect of fear is that it keeps us from doing what we love: accomplishing goals, moving across country, or say, eating octopus.

What if fear was just a tool that we could use for our gain? Recently, I’ve come to terms with fear. Well, I’m trying to at least. See, fear isn’t some trick of the devil. It isn’t Satan’s test. It’s just a test.

Without fear, personal cost couldn’t be measured. For example, would the water be as sweet if I didn’t fear jumping off the rock? Would it even be worth it? I’m starting to wonder.

I encourage you to embrace fear for what it is: a mere tool. Use it for YOUR gain. Mark your dreams by how much they scare you, then reach for the scariest one.

When fear over steps its boundaries, punch it in the face and go on the ride. Space Mountain is totally worth it.

medium_47529326Photo Credit Top [http://www.flickr.com/photos/disneyworldsecets/2768351879/]

Photo Credit Bottom [http://www.flickr.com/photos/joeandy/47529326/]