Fear is all in my head, I know that. And yet, since I broke my hand 363 days ago, I haven’t really overcome my fear of falling again and breaking something else. It’s affected what I do to some extent, especially when it comes to exploring. What if I fall, what if I break something and I can’t be a vagabond? What if? What if? What if?
For a person who generally doesn’t deal in “what if” scenarios, this has been a challenging year. I’ve forced myself to take solo hikes, where I spent an inordinate amount of time looking down at my feet and the path ahead, determined to spot every rock and root that might trip me up. While you saw photos of forests, my brain mostly only saw this view:
Yesterday, I bought a book on the geology of Nova Scotia and found a nearby lighthouse with basalt cliffs that looked promising. When I got there, it was indeed beautiful.
The only thing was, I knew the best shots would be from down on the rocks below the lighthouse. Yeah, those rocks…
I slowly and carefully started to make my way down there, even scooting on my butt a few times when it was steep enough I didn’t trust my footing. And then I came to the impasse.
This was the other side, where all the good stuff was, I was sure of it.
Only problem? This little canyon between all those beautiful rocks and me.
I looked at it and part of me shrugged and said I didn’t want the pictures that badly. But the other part of me did. I stared at the rocks for a while, imagining a path across and finally took a first, hesitant step. Then another, and another, until I slowly made my way across to the other side.
I spent an hour scrambling across the rocks on that other side, standing on the edge of Nova Scotia itself, wind blowing, surf crashing against the rocks below. And somewhere in that hour, I lost the fear that had been my companion for the last year. I might fall again, or slip and scrape my knee. But the fear of that doesn’t own me any more.
I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.