In his inaugural speech in 1933, Franklin Delano Roosevelt famously quipped that "...the only thing we have to fear is fear itself." Still recovering from the first World War and struggling to claw its way out of the Great Depression, America was, indeed a nation in fear.
Franklin's "fear" speech is often confused with his "day of infamy" speech, delivered on December 8, 1941 after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. Different speeches, different objectives. His speech in 1941 was more about vengeance and led the Japanese to lament that they had awoken a "sleeping giant".
To be fair, Roosevelt borrowed the "nothing to fear" thing from Francis Bacon, who, 400 years earlier cited fear as man's obstacle to overcoming men's obstacles. Hey, who doesn't love Bacon?
Is it true, though that fear is the only thing to fear? Have you listened to the news lately? There's plenty to fear. There's global warming, obesity, terrorism, swine flu (and other pandemics), debt ceilings, real estate bubbles, Obamacare, gun control, fracking, air pollution, soaring oil prices....it's a wonder any of us can get out of bed.
If you're a willing enabler, there's a host of fearful things out there that could make a sane person go insane. Selling fear, however is nothing new.
Back in the late '40's, a Senator named Joseph McCarthy had about half our country convinced that the Commies were on the verge of over-running Coney Island and that the other half of the country was part of that conspiracy.
I grew up learning how to "duck and cover" under the tiny desk in my grammar school that would protect me from an all-out nuclear attack, supposedly launched by the then USSR.
It's always something. We don't have weather anymore, we have storm watches and flash flood alerts and Polar Vortexes. "When will we escape the heat," our weather bunny asks. "When will winter release its icy grip?"
In my personal life-without getting too personal-I can attest to most, if not all bad things germinating in fear. Fear of failure, fear of rejection, fear of pain, fear of being afraid, fear of the unknown and just good old, generalized fear. It's a bitch I tell ya.
I've been skiing for more than four decades, mostly at the "intermediate" level. Not a bad place to be after 3 or 4 years of skiing, but more mediocre than intermediate after 10 or 15.
It occurred to me this year that something long ago impeded my progression as a skier and continued to plague me into my 44th year of skiing. What, Francis Bacon could that be?
I had all the techniques layered into my brain. I've shared them with many a beginner and watched them go on to eclipse my own abilities, my own daughter a prime example.
Remembering that I got a pilot's license back in 1987 just to overcome my fear of small planes, I decided to adopt the message of a sticker on my motorcycle helmet-not that I wear the helmet. The message is a succinct paraphrase of both Mr. Bacon's and President Roosevelt's message: "Fuck Fear". Fuck fear, indeed!
As far as skiing goes, I've overcome a lot of those fears that held me back and am committed to keep working on them both in skiing and in the rest of my life. My new skiing aggression has even caused me to wear a ski helmet, as I whoosh over cliffs and between trees.
There's another two months to ski season. Hopefully, this won't be my last blog.
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