“My ‘fear’ is my substance, and probably the best part of me.”
I crossed my arms with a cool calm demeanor and shrugged my shoulders. “Nah,” I answered with a non-amused tone. “What is there to be afraid of?”
The Skydive instructor kind of looked at me and shook her head. “You mean you don’t even have a few butterflies in your belly that get you a little nervous? Not even excitement? Nothing?”
“What is there to be afraid of?” I demanded, expecting to get some sort of lecture trying to talk me out of plummeting out of a perfectly good airplane at 11,000 feet.
“Well,” she said with a tone that seemed almost disappointed in my response. “Things happen sometimes, rough landings and such, but really nothing. Usually people at least have a little bit of fear in them.”
I thought about it, before answering this time. Instead of having mental puke coming out of my mouth and trying to explain to her the life of a bitter existentialist I just shrugged again as the plane started climbing up to altitude. I looked out over the low country of South Carolina and took note that there wasn’t anything that I was actually afraid of at that very moment. The plane could crash, the parachute could fail to deploy, I could have a heart attack. All of those things didn’t scare me. Why was this, why did I feel like I was disposable? Why didn’t I care if I fell at the speed of gravity into the ground?
As we climbed up and up into the clouds, the other jump team was going over strategy and contemplating how to position themselves. I was singing the song “Big River” in my head, not even thinking about what was going to be happening in the next few minutes. I knew the process, the door was going to open, We would attach and swing one, two, three, and belly flop into the great blue sky. That was the process. Not scary, I mean as long as you follow the directions what could go wrong?
The door opened and the cold air from the high skies filled my face – that was when I realized why I wasn’t afraid. I realized that fear was for people that felt like they had something to live for. Fear was for people that actually valued stuff in life and didn’t want to lose it. My fear was mental – all emotional – not tangible. None of my fears could be connected to a physical being or embodiment, my fears were of myself.
Again, not too long after falling out of the airplane without incident I found myself flying down a front straight of a road track in the triple digits. I never felt the first bead of sweat break my brow, and even though what I was doing was supposed to be “thrilling”, I was numb to the situation. My instructor asked “How does it feel to go 110 mph in your own car?”. I thought about it a moment, negotiated a tough left handed cambered corner and answered. “Fast I guess.”
Getting out of the car, I felt numb. There was nothing to fear, except people. I realized at that very moment, I was afraid of something. I was afraid of people. Judgement, liking me, hating me, loving me, all of those things I was afraid of. Incidents of death didn’t bother me, it was how people interacted with me I was afraid of. Why? What is so scary about human being? It was easy, at least for me to grasp what the fear really was, people scared me. They’re unpredictable and have no schedule of events. Skydiving you open the door and jump, then hopefully land safely – simple. Racing cars you know your track, you know your car, and you’ll know what’s going to happen when stuff starts to get squirrelly.
People, however, are unpredictable. They can hurt, and I’m afraid of being hurt emotionally way more than being hurt physically. It’s come to the point that the only time I can find peace with myself and the world is when I’m going fast. Having total concentration on the speed in which you’re travelling occupies the mind so much that there isn’t time to worry about who thinks what of you or who’s doing what to whom. Speed = Peace for me. There is no fear, there is no love, there is no hate, there are no emotions at speed, at least not in my mind.
The beauty in the fear of people is that when I do connect with somebody that I’m not afraid of, it’s a wonderful feeling, I just have to step out of my comfort zone to get there.
“The tremendous world I have in my head. But how to free myself and free them without ripping apart. And a thousand times rather tear in me they hold back or buried. For this I’m here, that’s quite clear to me.”