Why Bother Being Fearless?

Why Bother Being Fearless?

It is Halloween and there are some spooky ghosts, goblins and witches residing in the front yards of our neighborhood. A lot of people choose the inflatable decorations driven by a motorized fan. Skeletons and the boogeyman, larger than life, gyrate through the night, until someone unplugs their source, the motorized fan. Then the scary character deflates and lies in a motionless heap, no longer scary. 

    What Do We Fear?

Growing up, I grew afraid of the dark and opening closet doors, thanks to my little brother. Getting into bed one night, I heard some rustling under my bed. I cautiously crept over to the light switch and turned it on, then peeked under my bed. My little brother lunged at me, and of course, I let out a blood curdling scream while he laughed. 

As a latch key kid, I usually got home before anyone else. Opening up the front closet one day to hang up my coat, once again, my little brother jumped out at me from the back of the closet. Again, I screamed while he laughed. For a long time afterward, I would check under my bed at night before turning off the light and instead of opening the closet door to hang up my coat, I’d drape it over a chair. While I outgrew my little kid fears, I acquired one or two in adulthood. 

One of my greatest fears as an adult used to be whether or not I would fit in. Could I be who I was, and still be liked by my peers? Could I maintain my values, beliefs and opinions in a group even if they differed from everyone else’s?  I’ve come to realize, some people will prefer my company some of the time, others will prefer my company most of the time, but not everyone will prefer my presence all of the time. Yet, I am comfortable and know I don’t need a general consensus to be myself. 

Another fear was my ability to succeed. Was I good enough? Was I doing it right? Did I make a difference? Success is ambiguous. It is measured differently by different people. Some gauge their achievements according to their income, others by how popular they are and some by how far reaching their influence spans. According to them, I am a failure. But, if I do not measure myself against anyone else, then I am a success. When we compare ourselves with others, we discover we do not measure up. But living our lives to the best of our abilities, we find success. 

Why bother being fearless? It is worth being fearless because fear holds us hostage to living according to someone else’s standards. This Halloween, let’s find the source of one of our fears. Whether real or imagined, when we unplug it we’ll see it lose its power to scare us anymore.

Why Bother Not Carrying Your Fears?


Why Bother Not Carrying Your Fears?

Once again I met with the women who like me, want to hike and backpack this summer.

This time, we met at Cass’s house, so she could show us her gear and maybe, weather permitting, watch her set up her campsite.

Arriving at her house in the cold rain, she told me that it might just be the two of us since some of the others had forgotten or had had unexpected things pop up, and we’d save the camp set up demonstration for a warmer drier day. While we waited for the possibility of one other arrival, Cass asked if I wanted to see her “gear closet.” I followed her down the hall to a bedroom converted into an office and she opened a closet door.

Important Gear

Any other woman might be proud to show off the snazzy outfit she’d gotten on sale for a fraction of the regular price, but instead, Cass was pleased to show me a closet full of rain slickers, jackets and sleeping bags slung over hangers. The red bag caught my eye. “Is that the new one you told me about?” I asked. 

“Yes,” she said as she rubbed its material between her fingers. “It is heavy, but it will keep me warm in sub zero weather.” 

Walking back to the kitchen, we heard a tap on the back door and I let Mona, another member of our loosely knit tribe, inside. Cass poured us cups of coffee and Mona and I sat down with our paper and pens ready to take notes. 

“First, I’ll first show you what I carry for a day hike,” Cass said as she began laying items out on the table; matches, an emergency blanket, rope, knife and a small first aid kit. “It is usually the day hikers who get into trouble since they can’t imagine running into any adverse circumstances during an out and back hike. Then when they do, they find themselves in a bigger ordeal because they have no survival gear.” 

Mona and I nodded and began writing out our lists of things to buy. I don’t even own a day pack, so that went on the top of my list. The other items would be easy to gather together. 

Next, Cass showed us her 80 liter pack, the one she carries for longer treks. “All of my day hike gear goes in this pack along with a few other items.” She disappeared for a second returning with a stacked set of heavy duty tool boxes on rollers.  

I was impressed and overwhelmed as Cass opened each tote showing and explaining the importance of each of the items; titanium utensils, a tiny tea kettle, a cup, sleeping bag liner, bug net, a towel, stocking cap and gloves. In the last tote were her tarps and hammock. 

“About how much weight should we plan on carrying?” Mona asked.

“Well that depends on your fears,” Cass answered.

“What do you mean by that I asked?”

“You know that new sleeping bag I showed you? I could carry a lighter one, but I am afraid of getting cold. So I’m willing to haul it because of my fear of the cold.”

I inventoried my regiments and routines, all the things that made me feel secure;  vitamins, coffee, books and journals. I could easily leave my make-up behind, but traveling anywhere, I’d always packed more books than clothes. Could I do without reading and writing? What would replace those things? Yet, I knew I’d  have to leave them if I wanted to travel light.  

Why bother not packing your fears? It is worth it to gauge the weight of the things we carry. And though we don’t know what we will be like without them, we do know we will be lighter.