Why We do Things that are Challenging, Dangerous, and Scary as Hell

Water is probably the thing in this world of which I am most afraid. People typically laugh in disbelief when I tell them that. I don’t even really understand it myself, but I think it is because I’m afraid that I do what I do. Here are some well written thoughts, from a friend on why we push ourselves to do what scares us.

Fear. Redemption. Life. Death. Loss. Passion. Water. Friendship.

If you push the edge long enough, you inevitably are faced with the question. Why? Is it worth it? At what cost? Just as inevitable are the usual answers: it’s more dangerous driving down the highway; at least I’ll die doing what I love; it’s not the destination, it’s the journey; and so on. To some extent, there is truth in these answers; but at the same time, they are an easy out. A quick sound bite to assuage the nagging doubt that is so clearly burried deep inside. A go-to retort to all those who pass judgement on decisions they do not understand. An immediate side-step around the truth that we all must face at some point, whether we want to or not.

I think that this is especially poignant for those of us that have directly experienced the sobering blow of loss, in some form or another, and were not able to side-step this question. That moment when we know that a quick answer will not suffice. That a quick answer is not the truth. Is, in fact, almost profane in its certitude and arrogance. How do we move beyond this? Is it possible to move beyond this? Most importantly, by pushing this edge, have we been living a lie the entire time?south feather

I have wrestled with these questions for some time now, and have spoken at great length with close friends who have also been forced to reconcile this vast chasm. Here’s my take. Here’s why I must always push this boundary up until my last breath: Life is risk.

With every single decision we make there is a potential gain and there is a potential loss. Fear can come in many forms: fear of asking the wrong question; fear of asserting one’s needs; fear of moving past a pre-defined comfort zone; fear of death and loss; even fear of success. If we allow fear to drive our decision making process, we will be caught in a perpetual cycle of mitigating loss without ever pursuing our dreams.

It is not about proving how great we are. It is not about showmanship or one-upmanship. It is not about stories, or pictures, or videos, or hashtags. It is about the simple fact that when I take that stroke out into the current – when I fully commit to charging straight into my source of fear – that fear no longer owns me. It no longer drives my decisions and stands inbetween me and my dreams. It is then and only then, in my humble opinion, that one can truly appreciate life.

This was a hard one for me to learn. And I am still learning. I will be forever grateful that the person that instilled this into my core still sits on my shoulder and in my heart. I will never forget.

And this is why I take that stroke out into the current. Into the fear and uncertainty, and into that wild darkness that is life. Because I own it and I am not afraid.

-Words and pictures courtesy of Cyrus Luciano

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