Facing a fear. It’s something we all hate to do because it’s so uncomfortable. And yet, when we do face fear head-on, it brings an incredible sense of achievement, right? Well, my brother and I faced one together many years ago that you may find interesting.
You might remember that I grew up with many a family card game of Progressive Rummy happening at my Grandma & Grandpa’s house. My Grandma had a sister who everyone called “Aunt Shorty”. For good reason, too, since she was all of about 4 feet 8 inches tall. But her side of the family loved Progressive Rummy just as much as ours did.
My Dad had a cousin (Aunt Shorty’s son) named Bud. Yup…..Bud. He was a pretty laid back guy who took everything in stride. He and his wife, Barb, lived a couple of hours away from us, so we occasionally drove over and visited. When we did, the evening inevitably ended with the four adults playing cards late into the evening. Since Bud and Barb didn’t have any kids, my bother and I were left to fend for ourselves for entertainment.
We were young enough at the time that we usually had pajamas with us to change into. We eventually were laid down to sleep while the adults played on. One night, however, after we already had our PJs on, we got bored while the adults were bantering back and forth. We hadn’t brought anything of any real interest to keep our attention, so we looked around for something that qualified.
Then one of us saw the basement door. We had been down in the basement earlier that evening for some reason (can’t possibly remember what that was at this point). It was a big basement, mostly finished, with plenty of space to walk around. I got this crazy notion that we should take turns going into the basement without the light on.
The goal was to walk (not run) the complete circle around the perimeter of the basement and back up the stairs without getting scared. We decided we would keep the light on at the top of the stairs. That way, with the door cracked about six inches, enough light shown down into the basement that we could just make out where we were going.
Because of two factors–me being the older brother and that this stupid idea originated with the same–I went first. Once I got to the bottom of the basement stairs, I could hardly see a thing. No sounds could be heard. Just my own quick gasps for air as I fought the urge to hyper-ventilate while skirting the edges of the basement perimeter. Shadows lurked here and there, some possibly moving in my peripheral vision, but I was determined to set the example for all to follow. As I made my way back around to the bottom of the stairs, the desire to leap three stairs at a time was overwhelming. I fought it back, though, and “calmly” climbed the stairs to light and the safety of my parents.
Then my brother went down. He came back rather quickly, in my opinion, but stated for the record that he didn’t run and wasn’t scared. So I went down again and tried to go even slower this time. The thought of something lunging from behind to drag me back into the shadowy depths of the basement was there the whole time I climbed the stairs to victory. But I did it! We went back and forth with that journey into darkness for quite a while. At least we did until the adults realized what we were doing and Uncle Bud put a kibosh on the whole thing.
So what’s your fear? Can you take steps to face it? Even baby steps? It’s worth the exhilaration you feel when you’ve taken steps to kick it in the teeth. Try it! You’ll like it.