Fear

I’ve been thinking a lot about what to write this week.  It’s been busy, and I’ve been struggling a little bit to develop a topic.  Really, with sailing season in the Rockies over till the spring, work is limiting travel, etc. about all we are left with is selling things in terms of getting ready.  I’ve already written a lot about selling stuff, so no need to expand on how that’s going.  However, having said that, we did sell a couch and love seat.  Honestly, it was time for it to go anyway.  It was worn out and time for a new home.  So we moved the other couch set we have to replace that one.  When we did that, it left a big open space in the basement…which our youngest promptly claimed as his bedroom!  Why not let him have it?

So that leaves an empty room…it also prompted the need for a dresser, so my chest of drawers was emptied and moved downstairs.  That leaves a giant open spot in our bedroom.  Just an empty wall.  Those empty spaces have made things a little more real about where we are headed.  It has prompted some fear too about what we are planning.  I mean seriously…living on a boat!  What the hell?!  Who does that!  Who quits their job and travels the world with half of the income that you’ve been accustomed to bringing in? 

After all, we have a good life, we really do.  A nice house, good job.  Kids are happy.  By most standards of any culture created by the agricultural revolution we are in a good spot.  We have a lot of incentive not to change what we are doing.

Fear can be a good thing.  Fear helps to keep us safe.  In his book, The Gift of Fear (this link will take you to Amazon), Gavin De Becker talks about how fear can be used to keep us safe from dangerous situations.  When you have that feeling in your gut as you approach your car, or something just doesn’t feel right when you are talking to someone, your gut or sense of fear is trying to tell you something in order to keep you safe.  Much of his work is about safety from violence, but at the same time, there are some aspects of it that can be extended beyond just violence.

 Fear can keep us safe from a variety of things.  Climbing too high on a rock without any safety gear, driving too fast on the highway, walking up to a strange dog in the neighborhood.  But at the same time, those signals of fear can also keep us from moving out of our comfort zone too.  I remember when I signed up for my first Spartan Race, the waiver basically says you are doing this knowing full well that you could get injured or even killed in the race.  I had heard stories about Tough Mudders, and people drowning in the mud pit.  There was some genuine fear as I headed into the race for the first time.  Even when I was in the race, there was an obstacle that was cargo netting draped over two container boxes stacked on top of each other.  I was afraid when I looked at the climb and across to the next set of container boxes. 

But I pushed through that fear to accomplish finishing the race.  Was it in record time?  No.  But I finished and I did something outside of my comfort zone.  What I learned from that is that I could let fear keep me comfortable and safe.  Or I could push myself, face the fear, knowing that I was reasonably ready for the race and that while I had heard horror stories, there were things that I could do to prevent those from happening to me.

I try to remember this when I look at those empty spaces in the house.  We are taking steps to keep safe when we move aboard.  We are taking sailing lessons.  We are learning how to operate a sailboat, and what safe conditions are.  When we move aboard, we will likely hire a sailing coach for a period of time to help us learn the ins and outs of life on the ocean.  Much of the fear that I am experiencing is really about the unknown.  There’s a lot of unknown.  I know the path that the traditional life holds.  You can pretty well predict what’s going to happen.  Sure, there are some unknowns, but overall, there are some safe bets.  The house gets paid off.   We retire. The kids get jobs.  Maybe there are grandkids, maybe not.  There are some pretty safe bets.  Some of those will happen regardless of what we do, living on a boat or living in a house.

 But there are some things, I can about guarantee that will never happen if we live in a house.  Swimming with blue whales probably won’t happen.  Sure, we could plan a trip to Tonga and do that, but the expense of getting there makes it a pretty safe bet that we wouldn’t get there.  Rounding Cape Horn will never happen if we are living in house.  Will it happen if we are in a sailboat? I actually don’t know, but there’s a better chance that it will.  Scenery changing routinely probably isn’t going happen either.  You know what else won’t happen living on a boat?  The comfortable routines of going to work, coming home and watching the evening news, then reading a book or playing a game on my phone.  Those kinds of things are comfortable, there is comfort in the routines of our day to day lives.  I think a lot of making this change to is about facing the fear of doing something that isn’t typical, that doesn’t contain the every day routines. 

Fear can be good.  It can keep us safe. But it can also be limiting.  Fear can keep us from having experiences that broaden our horizons and perspectives.  I want to see new things and I want my kids to have some different perspectives on the world.  Facing fear is the only way to make that happen.

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