DEAR FEAR, YOU CAN'T CATCH ME

"The encouraging thing is that every time you meet a situation, though you may think at the time it is an impossibility and you go through the tortures of the damned, once you have met it and lived through it you find that forever after you are freer than you ever were before. If you can live through that you can live through anything. You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you stop to look fear in the face." ~ Eleanor Roosevelt

I took my first lesson in conquering fear when our youngest daughter Sally had cancer at age three. I simply had to say no to fear and worry to remain strong for my child. I knew that whether or not Sally would pull through was beyond my control. The only thing I could control was my reaction to the whole ordeal. I didn't want to spend a single moment of our precious time together worrying about what might be. My cousin's advice to me at the time was to break it down by minutes. If I could make it through 60 seconds, I could then make it through the next 60 seconds. We didn't realize then that my cousin was passing on to me the secret to unlocking the power of now. Sally survived and we were all made stronger.

On our recent trip to the U.S., my tales of jungle life elicited numerous dropped jaws, causing me to reflect on how I've changed since moving here. I feel as though Eleanor Roosevelt would be proud of me. Not only do I not sweat the small stuff anymore, but I no longer fear the big stuff. When you choose to live as we do, you can't whine about things that scare you or you'll be unhappy all the time.

Here is Bill sending calming vibes to a hawk whose wing is tangled up in some fishing line in a tree. He's preparing to cut the line with a machete. Once down on the ground, the hawk couldn't free itself from the tangled line so Bill had to approach it once again to cut the line from its wing. This bird's beak looked like a lethal weapon and its talons appeared quite capable of shredding Bill's hand into a pompom. If Bill had shown fear, the hawk would have picked up on it and freaked out. As it was, Bill spoke quietly as he slowly approached the bird and bent down to cut its wing free. The bird made cooing sounds and allowed Bill to do his thing with the machete, then soared off into the sky.

This incident occurred the year before we moved here but now I see it as a foreshadowing of how we would learn to cope with future fears. Rescuing the trapped bird was risky but our hearts wouldn't allow us to leave it there to die a slow death. Moving here was risky but I didn't want to die without first being fully alive. Bill looked the fearful creature in the eye and approached it calmly. This, we have discovered, is the way to handle all fears. The best decisions will always be made when you face fear instead of running from it in a panic. It takes practice and we've had a helluva lot of practice in recent years. A 7.6 earthquake that rattled us to the core, a violent attack on Emily in her bed at night, Bill coming very close to dying from a breathing issue, close encounters with poisonous snakes, and absurdly risky driving conditions top the long list of scary things we've dealt with. The key is to accept that what is happening is scary, look straight at it, and then do what you have to do, knowing that however the story ends, you'll know you tried your best. It's really important to fill yourself up with peace every day so you always have enough in reserve when you really need it. Thankfully, being surrounded by incredible natural beauty every day keeps us well-supplied with inner peace.

"Courage is being scared to death but saddling up anyway." ~ John Wayne