Fear and Courage


Do the thing you fear most and the death of fear is certain.

~Mark Twain

ome people are born dragon slayers, fearless in the snarling face of danger. Others are naturally tuned to a lower level of risk tolerance. Unfortunately I must count myself in that latter group. I’d rather snuggle in my bed than face a dragon. Safely ensconced in said bed, perhaps I’d draw my laptop from its sheath and with chattering teeth write the dragon a stern email about its behavior, tempered in the postscript with overtures of friendship; slaying is not my thing.

A healthy dose of cowardice isn’t shameful. Even predators like the mighty tiger cower occasionally, and for prey species like the fretful gazelle, paranoia is a way of life. The motto “better safe than sorry” is imprinted upon their genes.

Our kind – midway between predator and prey – graduated too fast from the grasslands to lands of metal, plastic, and glass. Our social instincts haven’t caught up to our new reality. We tend to hide like trembling mice from what is new and untested, and in the bustling modern world every stranger we pass is new and untested.

And even dragon slayers have comfort zones. The cowboy who tames stubborn stallions in the corral is a stubborn wall-flower in the ballroom, where his derring-do decidedly doesn’t extend to dancing.

A comfort zone is a prison. We cannot live at once fearfully and fully.

Phobias hamper the enjoyment of the penalty free pleasures. And it is now well understood how phobias are overcome. The key to facing down one’s personal dragons is – this is never the news the phobic wants to hear – exposure.

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 Posted by on February 23, 2012
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