A couple weeks ago, Mike, Hunter, and I attempted to trek through the bush to look at a crashed World War 2 plane. We had hardly been walking for ten minutes when it began dumping rain on us. The mud was so intense that I had to shed my flip flops to avoid them being sucked beneath and rendered untraceable. We had been walking for an hour when we reached a river that was gushing water too intense for us to cross. Instead we turned back around and headed back up the path, which had essentially become a waterfall. We got back to the main road (more main than the bush one we had been walking anyway) to wait for the truck for over two hours, while we ate yams off leaves and built a small fire to keep warm. When we finally made it back to the house we ate bat at the nakamal. A normal day in Vanuatu, a day that once I would never have believed I could have gotten through, that scared me at the same time it thrilled me.
It wasn't until a few weeks later, climbing to the top of the Sydney Harbour Bridge that I realized these are the moments I like best. That week David made me try Indian food and sushi, I got to climb that bridge and fall out of a plane. I left my comfort zone almost every single day. While on the surface these moments are different than my Vanuatu experiences, they are essentially the same. Walking barefoot in the rain, living in a bamboo and Natangora hut. It's not about being afraid, it's about that moment afterwards. It's about standing at the top of that bridge, looking out over all of Sydney, the wind tugging fiercly at your balance, and wondering, suddenly, how on earth you got to where you are, how you managed to step from fear to comfort, from fear to joy.
The inhale you take in the face of terror is a desperate gasp for air, but the exhale is a startled laugh, a raw moment of exhilaration Doctors get that when they perform a particularly difficult surgery. Mothers when they hold their babies for the first time. But I get that when I'm caught by the harsh tug of a parachute opening at my back. Or when mud squishes gently between my toes and rain soaks me to my skin, my eyelashes battling constant droplets.
From the bottom of the Sydney Harbor bridge, from that initial tug of fear, the good is elusive, it's playing a particularly good game of hide and seek. But from the top, the beauty of the view grabs at the fear and rips it from you. There's no space for it anymore. Not when you realize you're free falling towards a sea of solid green, when the air is pulling at the skin on your face, grabbing at your arms and flinging them outwards as if you're a bird in flight, gliding downwards.
I mention fear in almost every blog post I write. That's because I feel it on an almost daily basis. It's an invisible line that never slackens, that pulls back at every step I try to take forward. The trick isn't to be fearless, it's to recognize that you feel fear and decide that of all the many things working against you in life, you're not going to let that be one of them. Fear is just a mindset and if you use it to push your limits, to experience that exhale of exhiliration, to get to the top of that bridge overlooking Sydney, you'll discover that it's a positive mindset disguised as a negative one, that makes all those moments worth it. The truth is you can do anything. The only barrier standing in your way is your own self. Don't let that jerk stop you from chasing life. Go. Do it. Breathe.