I must be honest: I’m a physical chicken.
I’m pretty brave emotionally – love
new jobs, adore new cities, even new countries. But a roller coaster leaves me weak in the knees. Don’t even mention going up in hot air balloon. Not so my buddy Dixie. She barrels down the mountain on her skis, goes para-sailing at the drop of a hat, slalom skis in the Mediterranean, and once even considered hang-gliding off a mountain in Switzerland. The only thing that kept her grounded was her lack of the language. Thank goodness she couldn’t speak German because I couldn’t even bear to watch!
So when we first retired, I decided to use Dixie as an inspiration and get out of my comfort zone by facing my fear of sailing – something my husband dearly wanted to do.
Bob longed to become a proficient sailor and enjoy the open water and the mastery of the winds. I loved the idea of learning something new with my husband and envisioned the times we would spend enjoying the experience and sharing long hours with friends unfettered by the constraints of land. But I was scared.
Facing my fears, we signed up for a water safety class believing this would quell any anxiety about sailing.
Good idea, wrong outcome! I tried this sailing stuff earlier in our life but felt like circumstances were different enough now in retirement that this time would be positive.
In the middle of the water safety class that listed all the things that could go wrong – ending with fire – I stood up and announced to the class that I took this class to calm my fears but now knew at least ten more ways we could die in a sailboat.
We eventually made it onto the water, learned to tack and how to get ourselves off when we ran aground, but I was always more comfortable with the boat sitting straight up and going slow. None of that heeling over for me!
During my final sailing experience, our small motor fell off the transom and into the water. We had to sail into the nearest gas dock. Need I say more? I literally jumped off the boat! That day I decided that I’d faced my fears and gone to the very edge of my comfort zone. And that was enough of that.
Remember what I told you about Dixie wanting to hang-glide off the mountain in Switzerland? Well, there’s more to the story.
We rode up to the top of the world that morning on a ski-lift. In the summer, ski-lifts are very, very high up in the air – especially in the Alps. I just closed my eyes and concentrated on breathing deeply till we made it to the top. But there’s no way I could ride that thing back down. So Dixie and Rick took the lift down at the end of the day, and Bob and I took several hours to walk down. Even walking, I felt like I was going to fall off the mountain. I told you I was a chicken!
Still there’s something satisfying about looking something you fear squarely in the eye and doing it anyway. I’m glad I did. But if you’ve done it, and it’s still scary, it’s okay to give it up. I’ll be happy to ride in your sailboat. I just don’t want to sail my own. And keep it upright, please. None of that heeling over!
What fears have you overcome? Send us a photo, and we’ll post it.