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Fear and finding my teacher

I believe that no one wants to be a fearful person. I also think that people are often blind to many of their fears and don't realize the degree to which they control the direction, flow, abundance, love, and success in their lives.

I've never considered myself to be a fearful person. I've always been somewhat of a risk-taker, naturally drawn to the thrill and adrenaline rush from speed and pushing my limits. For example, I love downhill skiing through trees—the joy of the split-second decisions necessary to navigate tight trees and unexpected obstacles. Everything fades away, and it's just me, nature, and my ability to negotiate it. I am present in each moment that comes along for as long as I am weaving, dodging, and gliding on the magical white stuff. Nothing quiets my mind like skiing.

I used to love driving fast. I'd clear my mind, breathe deeply, focus on the road, and open myself so I could pick up on potential danger. In my mind, this meant cops or something unexpected on the road. Often, for no apparent reason and without thought, I would find myself slowing down. I never questioned this, but instead, I'd go with it, and usually, in a short time, I would come across whatever it was I had instinctually picked up on, usually a state trooper. My intuition has frequently guided me, allowing me to take risks without negative consequences. It has never failed me, but I have often failed it.

I love horses, everything about horses, and particularly galloping through an open field on one. For me, the feeling of being on a large, powerful animal moving as one is exhilarating and freeing. Everyone knows horses are dangerous. After all, they are prey animals, so they run first and think later. If a horse fears for its life, there is nothing a human can do to stop it. Working with and riding horses is a high-risk endeavor, and I own a horse.

I used to rock climb. I've dangled 100 feet off the ground with nothing but a harness and rope preventing me from falling to my death. After a close friend of mine died, I decided to skydive. Sky diving had been on my bucket list for years, yet I could feel myself "chickening out," rationalizing why I no longer cared about this goal. After watching my friend heroically battle breast cancer for four years, I decided if she could face her fears, I could jump out of a plane and with a picture of her in my pocket. And yes, I jumped out of a perfectly functioning plane. It was incredible, and I loved every minute of it, especially the free fall.

I think you get the picture. While there are people who take more risks than I do, I believe most would consider me a "risk-taker." But everything is relative; there's always someone that has done more or done less, has more, or has less. Do you see what I'm saying? I'm a calculated risk-taker, but I'm not Evil Knievel, nor am I a base jumper or an extreme mountaineer.

Some might chalk it up to getting older. I chalk it up to finally liking myself. Either way, I've become more conservative in recent years. My fast-driving days are behind me. I can no longer rationalize the risk that this action presents. I still love mountain biking, but I no longer speed down the trail with abandon. I've accepted that my skill level does not match my love for speed, which is a recipe for crashes. And I've crashed many times. When I ride now, I find myself hitting the brakes, something I used to chastise others for when we rode together.

When I was young, it was pedal to the medal mostly because I didn't care about myself. Whenever I pondered a lousy outcome, I thought death was preferable to the life I was living. My attitude was, who cares, live in the fast lane, I have nothing to lose.

I have something to lose now, and that something is me. I believe I have something to offer the world, work to be done, so I desire self-preservation for the first time in my life.

Meanwhile, a lifetime dream came true for me when I bought Rudy. Over the past six years, the time with my horse has been amazing, and by this, I mean the most rewarding and challenging work I've ever done.

At first, I approached our time together by thinking about what I needed to teach him, but over time I realized he was my teacher. It seems I will only learn specific lessons through my work with him since I have failed at these lessons in my interactions with humans. I am learning horses can be incredible teachers. They are always honest, consistent, fair, and forgiving, but this doesn't mean they are easy.

To be continued, in Fear 2.

Written September 11, 2021

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