Monday, January 21, 2008

The Importance of Thrilling Yourself

When I was fourteen, my cousin Michael died. He was seventeen. He was skiing. He was on vacation. He was doing something he loved, doing something he was good at, doing something he'd done a million times.

If there was ever a pivotal point in my life where the road diverged and I could have chosen the Adventure Girl path or the Fearful Follower Girl path, it was then. And I chose the latter.

A trained beach life guard, I became afraid of the ocean. Then heights. Then going fast. Then slipping. Car accidents. Bicycles with peddle brakes. Walking under ladders. Trees that looked like they could fall over at anytime. Power lines. Dogs. Possums. Microwaves. The Easter Bunny. You name it, I became afraid of it.

Because in my world, things that are bad will probably happen with no warning, no notice and make no sense. One day you are doing something you love, the next day, you are gone.

But I don't want to be that way any more. Because all this FEAR doesn't amount to much LIVING. Yet it's amazing how ingrained it is in me. The other day, still in Kauai, we go to get snorkeling gear but I don't rent any. What's the point? I will be too afraid. It will be a waste. IT (the gear) will sit in the sand TAUNTING me.

"A five year-old can do this." Shut up!

"Last week, a eighty year old with two hip replacements did this." I said, SHUT UP!

After a while, my friend offers me his snorkeling mask. I put on it on, dip my face in the water. FISH EVERYWHERE! Yellow ones and blue ones and green ones and orange ones and some that are yellow, blue, green and orange all at once! It's like nothing I've ever seen before. It's like "Fish TV." A woman is shooting fish food out of a tube and they are swarming her. SHE IS GIGGLING WITH DELIGHT.

The more confident I get, the more I push the fear away. Soon I am submerged, then I am swimming, I am pointing, I am leading the way. I AM HOGGING THE GEAR and I don't care. I am thrilling myself. Not just what I am seeing with my eyes BUT WHAT I AM FEELING IN MY HEART.


The next day, at the waterfalls, I don't just want to look at them, I WANT TO BE IN THEM. My bathing suit isn't on but WOULD IT BE SO BAD TO GET MY CLOTHES WET? No. So I sit on a smooth rock and use it as a water slide into the waterfall. (It's a small rock, but IT STILL THRILLS ME, because the feeling is SO UNEXPECTED and therefore JOYOUS.)

What else scares me? What else can I do? How can I get back on that ADVENTURE path I turned (running, screaming scared) from? When an opportunity presents itself how can I say "YES" instead of the every predictable and resounding "NO."

The more you do, the less you'll fear.

Surfing, rock climbing, canyoning, parasailing, parachuting, zip lining, hot air ballooning, snow boarding, roller blading, ocean kayaking, kite surfing, skim boarding... more and more and more and more...