Lately, I’ve been thinking about how fear can cripple. It can hold you back from doing the things you really want to do in life, including achieving your dreams.
It’s no secret that we’re all afraid of something. Maybe we don’t try because we’re afraid of failure. Maybe we don’t love because we’re afraid we’ll end up brokenhearted. Maybe we don’t live because we’re afraid we’ll be hurt. And while all these are possible (and could or have happened at one point) if we don’t live and experience all there is, then, we merely exist.
With that said, it’s taken me 25 years, a lot of thinking, some life experience and a thought provoking essay to figure that out.
Almost a year ago, I was reading an essay titled Madness and the Crayfish Factory by Jon Foreman. On the surface it’s a story about surfing the giant, shark infested waters of Cape Town, South Africa, but, dig a little deeper, and you’ll find it’s about so much more. Tear into the meat of the story and it’s about chasing down your fears, staring them in face and overcoming them (even though you may be terrified). It’s about meeting the challenges in life head-on. There’s no guarantee you will come out unscathed, but that’s part of the risk. And isn’t a risk something like a gamble, a 50/50 chance that the end will be what you wish. Of course, the choice is always yours. So run after the things that scare you or stay on the sidelines.
“But remember: in any worthwhile endeavor there’s risk involved. Fall in love, fight for something you believe in, or paddle out on a day that scares you — the risk is always there. But perhaps the greater risk is to live out these shallow lives, running from our fears and dreams.”
I don’t want to run anymore. I’ve never been good at long distances (sprinting, yes) and I’m beginning to feel tired.
How about you?
I’ve been running for years, taking very few risk (and later wishing I had). Although, the risks I’ve been brave enough to take have been worth it.
If you think about it, there’s a whole world waiting, inviting you into its arms. There’s billions of different people to meet and learn from, hundreds of places to go and numerous adventures to be lived. Each of these have the opportunity to provide you with an experience and a story, or two. I certainly have no intention of surfing in the shark filled waters of South Africa, but I’m sure there will be times when I’m in my own, metaphorical, shark filled ocean with waves that continuously beat me down. And each time I will pray that the water doesn’t drown me and the sharks don’t eat me.
Isn’t life itself a risk? Our lives are made up of moments, decisions (for better or worse), people, places, feelings along with a variety of other things and each one contains a certain amount of unpredictability. At the same time, they help shape us as person. They add to the adventure and story that is our life.
After all, we only have one life so we might as well live it.
It’s like Jon points out in his essay, we all have a deadline. Don’t be so foolish to believe death won’t find you because, eventually, it will find all of us. This is something we have no control over, but what we can control, I believe, is what we do with the life we’ve been given.
So here I am, at a bit of a crossroads (as I’m sure we’ve all been there), and I can either sit back and let life happen, or I can live and not just simply exist. And I choose the latter. There’s things I want to do, places I want to go and people I want to see. I have my whole life ahead of me, infinite possibilities. We all have infinite possibilities. It’s the great unknown and, sure it’s scary, but I’m learning that’s part of the adventure.
Still, sometimes, when I’ve made a decision and then feel myself shying away, I hear those words echoing in my head; “But remember: in any worthwhile endeavor there’s risk involved…But perhaps the greater risk is to live out these shallow lives, running from our fears and dreams.”
Take a risk. I’m not saying you have to surf sharky waters (unless you want to), but we all have dreams and achieving those dreams require a certain amount of risk.
And I’m willing to take that risk.
If you would like to read “Madness and the Crayfish Factory” in its entirety, you may do so by going here.