The Fear Factor

As a kid, I use to drink water straight from the hose. I would ride around the neighborhood on my bike visiting friends until well after dusk. I would ding-dong-ditch your house on a dare. Using train tracks as a balance beam, never knowing when a train might come, was a huge thrill. Jumping off the high dive at the local pool was a triple-dog-dare, but always worth the risk.

As an adult, I aggressively pursued a degree in my field of choice, while those around me dropped like flies. During college, I fell in love for the first time, openly giving my heart and hand in marriage, only to be crushed shortly before the ceremony. After graduation, I picked up the pieces of my broken heart, packed up my car and drove cross-country to Los Angeles to pursue a life-long dream. Eventually, love found me, once again. There was hope. 10 years and one child later, my heart was crushed once again as the marriage dissolved. After returning home and licking my wounds, love found me, once again.

This time, I hesitated….but eventually took a deep breath and jumped.

What would be isn’t perfect. But 7 years and another child later, it’s worth the fight. Personal and professional dramas would continue throughout the years, but with every hit I would bounce back. Challenges were met head-on and hesitations were thrown aside.

Fear was something that continued to triple-dog-dare me my entire life, challenging me to be a better person. To grow, to learn. My usual response would be to flip Fear the bird and tell it to f*@k off. I’M GOING TO DO THIS JUST TO SPITE YOU!

Eventually, you begin to proudly bang your chest and wave the paddle you earned from swimming up Shit’s Creek for so long.

Until the day Fear turns around and bites you in the ass.

One day, you are asked to go zip lining through the woods of Wisconsin. F*@k yea, let’s go!

Shortly after, you’re getting fitted into uncomfortable harness gear that cuts into your naughty bits, climbing 10 exhausting flights of stairs and being hooked up to a one-inch-thick piece of steel cable and being told to jump. Just………jump! With literally nothing underneath you, and only the Blue Heavens above you.

Suddenly, your heart begins racing, lungs fail to process oxygen and complete panic sets in. You see the edge of the platform and you bite your lower lip. Until it bleeds. After that, the only thing you remember is looking your guide square in the eye and exclaiming the 4 words you never thought you would hear yourself say:

“I. Can’t. Do. This!”

She took pity on me and quickly released me from the zip line. I walked down the endless flights of stairs, overcome with the sense of Fear and disappointment.

My head quickly filled with questions: how did I allow this to happen? Why now, after all this time, all this life experience, would I chicken out now? How could I let Fear smack me in the face? This isn’t me dammit! It’s such a simple thing to just let go…and yet I couldn’t. Climbing down those stairs, I realized that I allowed Fear to get the best of me. And that pissed me off!

Yet, in the background, I can hear the squeals of delight as my first-born, my only daughter, who tore through those zip lines like no ones business. I ran from one landing tower to the other, clapping and cheering on her bravery. My years of strength have not gone to waste. Clearly, my daughter inherited that part of me, and for that I am thankful. The torch has been passed, and I couldn’t wish for anything better. May she carry this torch through the next couple of decades of her life and embrace every opportunity, banging her chest and waving her paddle. You deserve it Baby Girl, and your journey is only beginning.


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