Fear is an emotion induced by a perceived threat, which causes entities to quickly pull far away from it and usually hide.
I think fear can be broken down to the simple concept of what keeps you up at night. Everyone is afraid of something and often we are afraid of more than we let on. Fear of failing, heights, death, money disease; lets face it, there is a lot to fear in this world. I believe that fear is also an incredible motivator. When you overcome fear you often have a once in a lifetime experience. I thought I would give a few examples of some experiences I have had with fear.
The first time I was in Hawaii I was 10 years old. Being the youngest of four kids I was always stepping out of my comfort zone. No time was truer then when we decided to jump off the southern most tip of the states. It was a 40ft drop into the open ocean. There is something amazing about how you can run at a cliff and even when everything in your body is telling you no you still manage to jump. Stupidity? Adrenaline? Maybe it is just that sometimes the fear of failing is more than the fear of jumping. Whatever the reason, I had just jumped into a life of challenging fear.
When I was 12, my family started going to Tofino every summer. This was where I fell in love with surfing. One day, my sister, brother, and I had been surfing since morning. We were supposed to head to the beach in the next bay over for dinner. My brother decided that we should paddle around the cliff in order to get to the next beach. Me, being glutton for punishment, agreed to this nonsensical activity. Next thing I knew I was paddling out of the confines of the bay into open water as my tired arms tried to carry me to safety. The thing about paddling out of a cove and into the open is that the swell picks up exponentially. Before we new it we were in a 15ft swell that would lift us up and pull us towards the rock face. We would have to paddle hard to get over the back of the swell just in time to see it crash against the giant rock face. That was one of the scariest hours of my life. I remember getting around the cliff thinking, “I don’t think my arms will paddle me to shore.” Just then, a big wave picked me up and swept me to the beach. This experience taught me to never discredit dumb luck.
I went to Nepal after high school to hike the Annapurna circuit. In order to get to the start of the trail you had to take an 8 hour bus, (if you were lucky), from Katmandu to Phokara, where the trek started. What I didn’t realize was that the bus ride takes place on a one lane road that is used as two. Oh, also the road is on the edge of a 200ft cliff! I looked out the window and thought, “This is it. I’m going to die!” I learned a lot about excepting fate that trip. Certain situations are uncontrollable. When that happens all you can do is think positively and try not to look down. At least the view was spectacular!
Last winter I was in Maui with my girlfriend’s family. We were there for two weeks. During that time I got to know the pool boy named Keiko. Now Keiko wasn’t your typical pool boy. He was a biker gang rough around the edges guy who you knew by looking at him had seen a lot in his life. All the same, he was an avid spear fisherman, so I asked if he’d take my girlfriends uncles and me out one day. He agreed and for the next few days told us magical stories of the amazing things we would see. I remember lying in bed the night before thinking how crazy this was. We didn’t even know where he was taking us. The next morning we got up early and headed to the parking lot where Keiko and his buddy, Captain, were waiting. They told us to follow them, then swiftly hoped in their jeep and took off. The whole ride we were nervously joking that they were going to take us to the middle of nowhere, rob us and leave. We finally arrived at this secluded beach. Keiko gave us all spears and had us practice shooting leaves before we went in the water. His one rule was if we accidently shot him, he’d shoot us back. This made us intent on become quick learners. After the practice we put our snorkels on and headed down to the water. Just as we were about to jump in Keiko gave us the last bit of information. He told us that he had been seeing a “Tax Collector” in the water the past few days. It turns out that is what he calls a 14ft tiger shark that had been stealing his fish. Now he didn’t really tell us so that we could back out. He was simple stating that this fish was out there and to stay alert. This is when the fear of the situation really kicked up, but for some reason we still all went in the water. For the first few minutes every shape and passing fish made you jump and flinch. Then, slowly the fear began to fade. Fear is derived from the unknown. As soon as we were under the surface we began to familiarize ourselves with the situation, which allowed the fear to subside and the joy of the experience to take over. Next time you experience fear just dive in. Maybe it isn’t as scary as you thought it was.
P.S We never saw the tiger, but we did have one of the most amazing experiences ever.
Fear is everywhere. There is good fear that prevents you from doing something stupid. Then there is the fear that holds us back from truly living. This is the fear that we have to learn to overcome. When I’m an old man drinking my scotch by my bedside I want to tell my grandkids about the adventures I had not what could have been.
Cooper and O’Hara is a project that induces fear everyday. Where is money going to come from? Should I have just gotten a normal job? What are we doing? It is not a business for the faint of heart. Maybe if I hadn’t jumped off that cliff when I was ten, or paddled through a 15-foot swell I wouldn’t have been able to face this fear, but I did. I did and now the reward is too great to let fear get in the way.