Meeting the Fear Wave

There lived a man who wanted to dive for pearls, but he feared the sea.

He bought a diver’s mask, a snorkel and a dagger, but then stopped on his way to the sea.

“Well, not today,” he said to himself. “How much I have to learn.”

So instead he bought books about pearls, reefs, swimming techniques, and poisonous fish. He read these books everyday from sun up to sun down, soaking in the words on the pages. Then he wrote down the words that stuck out most from the pages.

Many days passed in this way.

Then the man decided to leave his books and notes and go speak with the pearl divers who lived by the sea. They asked the man if he wanted to dive with them.

“No,” he replied. “I just want to talk with you and hear your stories.” And so the divers had dinner with the man in his home. He listened to their stories intently and even began to write down the words that stuck out most from them.

Many nights passed in this way.

One late night, after the divers had left, the man took his stack of notes into his study.

“How much I am learning!” He said, clutching the stack closely. He opened his desk’s drawer. But it was filled with his book and stacks of notes from the weeks past. So he opened the other drawer and that too was filled with old notes.

The man noticed a box sitting on his desk. He opened it and laughed at what he saw: a diver’s mask, snorkel, and dagger. The man had forgotten all about these, but his laugh weakened to a smile and then fell to a grimace.

A wave of fear had risen in his chest and crashed against his hands, making them want to close the box and move it out of sight. But he looked at all the stacks of notes clutched in his hands and then dropped them on the floor.

The man knew that they could not replace the contents of the box, no matter how many stacks he made.

He lifted the diver’s mask from the box, feeling the wave of fear rising in his chest once more. He knew it was inevitable — that the fear wave would return and crash against him, but instead of retreating to his books and notes, like he had for many days and for many nights, the man leaned into the fear.

He fitted the diver’s mask to his face and carried the box out of his home and down to the beach.

“How much I have to learn!” said the man. He dove forward to meet the cresting wave before him.

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