People pay good money to jump out of planes and to bungee jump and swing across gorges on a rope.
They say it makes them feel truly alive.
That seems crazy to me. Not the jumping or the feeling alive part… the bit about paying for it.
No, as long as we don’t go too far, I think it is a very sensible to take chances and test our limits.
The thing is; there are lots of ways to do that without taking physical risks and most of them don’t cost us much, or in many cases, anything financially.
But they do require us to face our fears, and that can be a difficult price to pay.
Public speaking and playing an instrument in front of strangers were two fears I probably shared with many people and I am very glad I made the effort to get over them.
In the first case I discovered I was pretty good at addressing an audience and that there was positive feedback to be gained from the experience.
Being comfortable speaking to an audience also opened some doors and allowed me to earn unexpected cash.
What happened with the music, however, is much more relevant to what I’m trying to say.
After playing guitar for a couple of years with a beginners group I was offered the chance to pick out a solo in front of 100 people at a music service gig.
I was quite nervous and I did all I could to prepare for it, but to tell you the truth, when it came time to play, the noise that came out of my instrument was not pretty… not even to me.
The thing is, once it was over I still felt really proud that I had faced that fear, and everyone who bothered to say anything was very kind and they seemed to know that I had accomplished something – even if they never wanted to hear me play guitar again.
I tried and did as badly as I had feared I would, but it wasn’t really a failure as I still got something valuable out of the experience.
In addition to the obvious things that could lead to criticism and embarrassment, there are a wide range of fears that are going to be slightly different for each of us.
We all have them, and I suspect facing those personal fears may be one of the most important things we can accomplish during our lives.
Many people don’t like to spend time alone.
I suspect that is because they fear stopping, or at least slowing down enough to look inside their own heads so they can really get to know themselves.
Unfortunately, I also think that if we don’t take the time to do that we will never be able to identify the other things that scare us.
So I guess the fear of slowing down is the first one we should try to tackle.
That is not going to be easy in this high paced world where our phones and computers are constantly screaming out for our attention, but if we don’t give it a shot I think we will just be denying ourselves the chance to grow.
And if we stop growing and learning new things about ourselves, I’m afraid we will also stop truly living.