Just some thoughts on fear
Posted on February 09, 2016
“The oldest and strongest emotion of mankind is fear, and the oldest and strongest kind of fear is fear of the unknown” ― Howard Phillips Lovecraft
I’d like you to think about what humans have accomplished for a second.
We’ve ridden across Earth’s great land masses, built ships to sail across the seas, invented machines that can take us to the depths of the oceans, into space, and now–thanks in part to modern paragliding gear–we’re able to hike and fly across entire mountain ranges, powered only by the elements.
We were meant to explore. Born to discover. If we want to experience life at its most wonderful, we need to adventure.
For a long time, though, I felt a lack of it… and it made me miserable. My guess is that there are thousands of others who are also experiencing the very same void. Maybe you are too.
But the truth is, I’m not surprised.
Today’s norms make it too easy to get stuck chasing comforts. And to experience adventure is to confront the unknown, voluntarily choose discomfort, and to push personal boundaries.
Before you get too excited, I don’t promise any answers with this one. I simply followed the white rabbit to see what would come of it.
Maybe the next few paragraphs inspire a new perspective. Maybe not.
I’ll let you decide for yourself.
An opportunity to grow
At a glance, it’s easy to think of adventuring as this unreasonably risky activity better left for the “crazies”. But if we look past first impressions and avoid over simplistic definitions, the question that begs to be asked is, do we really gain anything meaningful from adventuring? I mean, is it really worth the sacrifices?
I think that depends on how you define success.
Better relationships, opportunities to craft skills, wisdom, some new found confidence to take on bigger challenges. I personally would consider these things as a successful outcome. My point being that adventuring is a deeply personal experience. What’s important, though, is that you are pushing your own comfort zone.
Nothing new, right? You’ve heard this all before.
So why do we still so easily get stuck…
Have you ever considered that boys in today’s western worlds, don’t really have any sort of ceremony to celebrate their rite of passage to becoming men. Not like they do in communities where men literally practise survival, and go out and hunt their own food.
You see, fear is sneaky. We feel it so easily as children. Then it just kind of slowly fades out of daily routine. But did it really go anywhere because I’ve found that fears influences all to often go undetected.
I mean as a kid I could recognise it pretty well. It would hit hard and without warning. Like a deer in front of full beams, before i’d consciously registered that I was feeling fear–paralysed–by both the knowns and unknowns.
So why is it so hard to recognise now?
I think modern self glorified internet culture is partly to blame. With todays generations so active on social media, it’s never been so difficult time to show vulnerabilities, because I believe internet culture promotes us to share the very best of us, even if what we show is’t real.
To be smart. Capable. To be a winner.
I want be a winner. And that’s precisely my point.
Maybe this explains why it’s all too easy to get caught up in this false positivity, we forget that being vulnerable does not make us weak. This means will’ll often discard the very idea of doing anything that might scare us as silly. Not important. Because it does not make us look good online.
Think about it. You’ll often feel fear when deciding whether or not to quit a job, owning up to a mistake, or booking a flight ticket somewhere you’ve never been before. These decisions impact your ability to maintain the present known, and the unknown is fucking scary. Only cowards feel fear, therefore not important. Will do it later. Sound familiar?
Right now, for example, you’d know exactly where to go grab pizza if you were hungry, or what you’d need to do at work to continue getting paychecks. When on a real adventure, though, you on some level are risking these knowns, and choosing to figure it out along the way.
But if there’s anything meaningful that flying paragliders across entire mountain ranges has taught me about fear it’s the following. Fear can enhance your focus and improve your performance if managed well.
The caveat no one is talking about
“That’s the whole meaning of life isn’ it, trying to find a place for your stuff…” — George Carlin
Most of us mortals have to hustle to live, and that means that on some level we need to work. This makes falling into a routine unavoidable. Eventually, doing the same chores over and over again becomes tiresome, so we begin the perpetual search to make life easier by purchasing conveniences. Before long we’re caught into a cycle of “effortless living”, one small purchase at a time. Welcome to the 21st-century consumerism.
Unless we go through the gut wrenching process of proper goal setting and looking for purpose, this never ending search for the simple, easy, and effortless becomes the goal, and that’s where life goes wrong for many people. I call this the BIG delusion.
Let’s just face it, happiness is hard. But I believe it is a skill, and it requires asking lots of hard questions, challenge, constantly working on becoming a better human, and learning to put others first, all which can be experienced when on an adventure… It’s simply a lot easier to live under the belief that comfort equals happiness because mindlessly chasing money then makes sense, and buying stuff we don’t really need gives us a false sense of purpose.
But happiness doesn’t work like that, and this lesson is one we will all learn one way or another. Some later than others…
I’m not saying that buying stuff with the intention of making life easier is a bad thing. I’m just highlighting that the nuances of modern Western society have created a caveat, which is that it has become dangerously easy to spend life chasing comforts, instead of the experiences that lead to fulfilled living. And in my opinion, that could be what’s standing between you and your next adventure.
Where to from here…
As I said at the start, my goal with this post wasn’t to prescribe a solution.
The goal was to share a belief that adventuring is a key ingredient to happiness, and if you aren’t doing it (despite feeling a desire too), it is not entirely your fault. Unfortunately, the world we’re living in makes choosing to adventure an irrational decision because we’re in many ways brought up to prioritize comforts, and adventuring means putting those known comforts at risk…
These ideas might seem far-fetched, oversimplified, or ill-defined, but these are the very beliefs that keep me from spinning my own wheels. They are my reason for minimalist living. And they help guide me when I’m lost.
I wrote this because I hoped these ideas might help you too, or at least, serve as a starting point for some enquiry of your own.
Thanks for your reading.
A bit about me: I’m Rhys! I’m a 28-year-old adventure addict from England. In 2017 I crossed the Pyrenees, powered by the elements…rock’n a high-performance paraglider. I turned the project into the most interactive adventure of it’s kind. Here’s a sneak peek into day-9, where we flew for 7 hours, covering more than 137km in-flight. The project began as a crowdfunding.
Follow me on Twitter at @AgileExistence