People assume that because I took a 5-week road trip alone I was in my comfort zone, that I had no fear. Nothing is further from the truth. The fact is, that because of an innate cautious nature, I exercise more caution that most when it comes to crossing the line between the familiar and the unknown.
Redmoon’s quote is worth repeating here: “Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgment that something else is more important.”
My “something more important” was a passion to tour the West. So, I made allowances for my cautious nature. Reservations were secured for all 35 nights in advance. My itinerary was arranged so I would not be driving at night, and in most cases, I was in my place of lodging before dark. In addition, pepper spray was within arm’s length at all times!
Yet, my curiosity and adventurous spirit called to me countless times to leave my comfort zone and face fear: driving to the top of mountains, the first one being the highest mountain in North America; staying in hostels for the first time; and driving down the Pacific Coast Highway with its “hairpin curves and no guardrails”.
Talk about moving out of my comfort zone and new doors opening! During this Journey of Discovery I learned more about the world, the West, and myself than ever before. What better motivation for Putting Fear in its Proper Place.
Did I ever walk away from something I feared rather than face it? Certainly! I do not agree with Ralph Waldo Emerson or others who said, “Always do what you are afraid to do”. In my book I describe my fear of walking on a deserted beach and how I passed three beach access points on U.S. 101 before finding one where I felt comfortable enough to stop. Two women were walking down a path from the parking lot to the beach and I invited myself to join them.
There were also drives along my route that were a bit more challenging that I wanted or needed so I bypassed them.
Because I practiced the three steps outlined in yesterday’s blog — Acknowledge Fear, Learn to Live with Fear, and Step Out of Your Comfort Zone, I am now able to take control of fear by weighing the risks, then paying close attention to and honoring my comfort level, essential ingredients for living my life.
Tomorrow, Part III of Putting Fear in its Proper Place will describe how my most difficult encounter with fear also brought the greatest reward ‒ a place where fear and I co-exist with comfort and grace.