Everything you wanted to know about staring fear in the eyeballs and… stabbing it!
False evidence appearing real. What an empty fucking platitude. Sure, it applies to your mundane social construct terrors; like public speaking, or dancing, or just dealing with strangers who are interested in your whole trip, but falling apart over that type of shit is more manifestation of cowardice than healthy instinct for self preservation.
Maybe I just don’t get it, though. Hand me a mic and I’ll happily yammer at a room full of strangers for hours. I don’t care if people are interested in what I’m saying, just look at me. Look at me! Watch me dance! Pay attention to me!
But real fear is out there. Putting your body on the line, confronting your mortality, driving on the 405 freeway after the better part of a decade in Hawaii. Scary shit, all of it.
Because of the whole surf writer thing, and because I live where I do, I’ve been tapped a fair amount of times to interview big wave surfers. Lots of ego going on there, though understandable, and forgivable, given what they do for work.
You’ve gotta have a relatively high opinion of yourself to hurl your body over a fifty-foot ledge on a regular basis. That thin line between self confidence and arrogance is defined by doing. We all love to hate on Laird, but I can’t think of a single time his mouth wrote a check that his ass didn’t cash.
They all talk about their fear. It sells well, it humanizes, it plays with humility. But I’ve never believed it to be true.
Fear’s a sliding scale, and if you’re doing things right it’s different day to day. As an eight-year-old confronting chest high shore pound my knees were weak. As a grown man with decades of experience it ain’t nothing no more.
I was a fearful child, and remained so into early adulthood. What might happen, what could be, was an ever lurking horror beneath my bed. Consequences, failures, humiliation; bugaboos so abhorrent they’d freeze me in my tracks.
I found a switch, it turns emotion into emptiness. We all have it, it’s just a matter of learning where it lies and how it flips.
It’s not that you don’t feel fear, it’s that you don’t feel anything. In that moment your mind is blessedly free. In a heartbeat you attain an emptiness that the unenlightened achieve by decades of chanting into a void.
You may end up broken, or beaten, or spend years analyzing a failed moment that is the culmination of years of preparation. But that really doesn’t matter.
What matters is that split second when your every instinct screamed, “STOP!” but you went anyway.
Consequences don’t matter, only doing does.
We’re all gonna die, better by misadventure than shortened telomeres.