Monday, January 21, 2008

The Importance of Thrilling Yourself


When I was fourteen, my cousin Michael died. He was seventeen. He was skiing. He was on vacation. He was doing something he loved, doing something he was good at, doing something he'd done a million times.

If there was ever a pivotal point in my life where the road diverged and I could have chosen the Adventure Girl path or the Fearful Follower Girl path, it was then. And I chose the latter.

A trained beach life guard, I became afraid of the ocean. Then heights. Then going fast. Then slipping. Car accidents. Bicycles with peddle brakes. Walking under ladders. Trees that looked like they could fall over at anytime. Power lines. Dogs. Possums. Microwaves. The Easter Bunny. You name it, I became afraid of it.

Because in my world, things that are bad will probably happen with no warning, no notice and make no sense. One day you are doing something you love, the next day, you are gone.

But I don't want to be that way any more. Because all this FEAR doesn't amount to much LIVING. Yet it's amazing how ingrained it is in me. The other day, still in Kauai, we go to get snorkeling gear but I don't rent any. What's the point? I will be too afraid. It will be a waste. IT (the gear) will sit in the sand TAUNTING me.

"A five year-old can do this." Shut up!

"Last week, a eighty year old with two hip replacements did this." I said, SHUT UP!

After a while, my friend offers me his snorkeling mask. I put on it on, dip my face in the water. FISH EVERYWHERE! Yellow ones and blue ones and green ones and orange ones and some that are yellow, blue, green and orange all at once! It's like nothing I've ever seen before. It's like "Fish TV." A woman is shooting fish food out of a tube and they are swarming her. SHE IS GIGGLING WITH DELIGHT.

The more confident I get, the more I push the fear away. Soon I am submerged, then I am swimming, I am pointing, I am leading the way. I AM HOGGING THE GEAR and I don't care. I am thrilling myself. Not just what I am seeing with my eyes BUT WHAT I AM FEELING IN MY HEART.

And I realize, "THE MORE YOU DO, THE LESS YOU FEAR."

The next day, at the waterfalls, I don't just want to look at them, I WANT TO BE IN THEM. My bathing suit isn't on but WOULD IT BE SO BAD TO GET MY CLOTHES WET? No. So I sit on a smooth rock and use it as a water slide into the waterfall. (It's a small rock, but IT STILL THRILLS ME, because the feeling is SO UNEXPECTED and therefore JOYOUS.)

What else scares me? What else can I do? How can I get back on that ADVENTURE path I turned (running, screaming scared) from? When an opportunity presents itself how can I say "YES" instead of the every predictable and resounding "NO."

The more you do, the less you'll fear.

Surfing, rock climbing, canyoning, parasailing, parachuting, zip lining, hot air ballooning, snow boarding, roller blading, ocean kayaking, kite surfing, skim boarding... more and more and more and more...


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19 comments:

RadoMom said...

My new motto...
"The more you do, the less you fear".
You are RIGHT. I'm always happy when I do something out of my comfort zone, but it's kind of chalked up to a "fluke" in my head. NO MORE! Tomorrow I'm jumping out of an airplane!!!! Or maybe I'll just tackle that laundry that's been taunting me all week! Whatever, either is a step in the right direction! = )

hope&laughter said...

Im so glad you came to that realization and in Kaui of all places. It;s one that came to me not to long ago. It's hard, really hard when the habit is so ingrained to say no first.

thesleepycat said...

I second radomom! you've given us all a new motto!!! "The more you do, the less you fear." WOW.

you are SO going to be on Oprah!!!!

lol
<3

adventure grrl said...

Okay,

I wanna know right NOW, one thing everybody wants to do - SOMETHING THAT WILL THRILL YOU - something that is a "dip your toe in the OCEAN OF ADVENTURE." Name it, claim it - put it in the calendar. It doesn't have to be huge or expensive or something that can only be done 3 states away. AND I WANNA HERE ALL ABOUT HOW & WHEN YOU are going to GET IT DONE!

xo, Your Somewhat Less Fearful Cheerleader

Surfergrrl said...

I actually fear puking, so uh, I'm going to try to avoid that...but I've always wanted to ride in a hot air balloon! :) And although I love the ocean, I've always been a little freaked about trying scuba diving.

RadoMom said...

Oh Sh*t, let me really think about that and get back to you. I promise, vow, swear, etc... whatever I come up with I'll do. More for my own sanity...I'm feeling the need to do something nutty. Not in a weird Britney sort of way, but kinda fun and suprising. Hmmmm.....

Skye said...

You should go white water rafting on the colorado river! It's AMAZING!

Skye said...

Ooooohhhh OR GO LAVA BED CAVING!!!! There is a Lava Bed National Park in WAAAAAAAAAY Northern California almost Oregon near Eureka! It's awesome!!! There are big ones, littles ones, fat ones, skinny ones. Some of them are tall enough to stand in and some you have to crawl on your belly through 1 ft high spaces. It's so much fun!!!!!!

Two Date Diva said...

"The more you do, the less you fear" Great motto! OK here goes, I'm going to travel to Egypt and explore as much of the country as I can. I don't care how dangerous it is for American tourists, I'm going to go anyway. I rather die doing something I love rather than live never having allowed myself the chance to do it.

Mandy said...

I did this 2 years ago - I went skydiving. I'm terrified of heights but I pushed myself. That was a turning point in my life and I'm trying to keep that going.

I really want to hike the Inca trail in Peru. Soon.

mac said...

yes yes yes! i did that when i travelled around the world a few years ago and did zip lining and was so scared and everyone called me "nana" you can do it nana and i was frozen on the other side. COME ON NANA (ok i was 29!!! nana my ass) anyway I did it and screamed the whole way over each time IN DELIGHT!!!

this gave me the confidence to hike a glacier (which is very dangerous) and go canyoning (EVEN MORE DANGEROuS) and travel to 5 countries in 6 weeks and meet random people!!! woo hoo!

Tah said...

Aloha!! I see your blog in Kris Carr and did make interesting about the title, so, i´m here now!! =)
I´m a brazilian girl and write so bad in english, but i try. I think that the most important is the comunicate, so move on... I don´t read about your life, but i will make. I think that people go to places of tips KIUAI, they must be read...
See u....

Two Date Diva said...

I tagged you! You are it. Inquiring minds want to know more about you.

See my last post. ;)

Anonymous said...

This blog gave me chills. I'm so ready to embrace the adventure that life has to offer. I can't wait. We have a lot of amazing things in our future. Let's get at them! xoxo L

Anonymous said...

How lucky of you to be in Hawaii! I'm so freaking jealous, but also inspired because one of my goals, written in permanent ink in my goal book, is to go to Hawaii this Labor Day for a major literary conference, where I will seek representation for my first novel. ...And I want to look hot as hell in a bikini when I get there! This would be the culmination of all the things I am working towards in my life right now, at least health, confidence, and career-wise, and I know I'm going to be reading your blog for inspiration the whole way there. So have a great vacation and keep up the great blogging when you get home! -enolan

lostandalone said...

your blog gives me hope that someday I will get out of my depression.

adventure grrl said...

Lostandalone, You are not alone anymore. We're here for you. Your comment is beautiful and I swear, things will get better - I would have never believed that for myself... it takes time, ugh, it takes work... but you'll get there. :)

Midge said...

As you can tell by the comment trail I've been leaving over th last week, I've just found you and am going through your archives to read you in chronological order. Wow that is a run-on sentence!

Anyway - I climbed a 30 foot structure similar to a telephone pole and jumped for a trapeze. And I'm afraid of heights.

It was the scariest and most exhilerating thing I've ever done.

And I'm still alive - i didn't die of fright.

And I learned something about myself. I'm an adrenaline junkie! I'm signing up for trapeze lessons. I found a place on the west side of Manhattan. The trapeze school that Carrie went to to take her lesson on the one episode of SATC that Carrie had about fear and encompassed the trapeze. They have one in LA too! Link here for anyone else interested who reads this comment:

http://www.trapezeschool.com/default.php

Broken Barn Industries said...

Some years ago, I quit my spirit crushing human services job and had no new job lined up and two kids to take care of. I took a MAJOR leap and applied for a job as a carpenter's helper. First job was roofing. It was SO empowering!