It is easy to place historic accomplishment upon a pedestal. Legend is the process of storytelling being aggrandized by countless word of mouth storytellers. Sometimes we create “Gods that shit marble”, in the words of playwright, Peter Shaffer. In doing so, it is easy to think of those people as something grander than our selves. Well, perhaps they were. Some are more brilliant than others. However, I find great peace in the knowledge that they are or were “just people”—people who, in their process of creating greatness, overcame their own fears (which are almost always present in an act of creating “something new”).
Committing to large-scale adventure can be a terrifying prospect. What’s the chief reason? Fear of the unknown. When we have and commit to large-scale visions, push-back aligns itself with our paths. Every action has an equal and opposite reaction, physics tells us.
Look to those visions of the past and the people who had them. What you will likely find is that those individuals wrestled with the exact same struggles that most of us face today. We have something in common with these visionary figures: our humanity.
Does the fear go away when one is committing action? Sometimes it does. When one leaps off of a cliff, I am told, many things pass through one’s mind. Fear is simply one component of what is present. If you are jumping off of a proverbial cliff, fear will be coupled by bravery and willfulness too. Let the fear be there. You do not have much choice in what emotions arise. However, you can choose to not listen to your fear, to not give it power. Instead, I urge you to choose to let your fear be there. Acknowledge it and then choose to act THROUGH it.
Anticipatory fears are almost always grander than what actual experience affords. In other words, we each know the most efficient ways of working ourselves into a tizzy. Who knows your fears and weaknesses better than you?
If you have heard the call to adventure and find yourself, as most heroes do at some point in their adventure, stalling, unable to commit, remember that you do not have to blaze trails alone. In fact, heroes of past have already illuminated the way. This is the power of understanding the hero adventures. If you come to know that structure, which is in nearly every story we read or movie we watch, you can understand your place on your respective adventures. Are people telling you that you can’t do what you have decided to do? That is typical threshold guardian stuff. Feel that after you commit, you find yourself overcome with stress, with fear and doubt? There you find yourself, in the belly of the whale. Compare your process to the hero process and you will see that your adventures are very similar to those we read and write about and are forever returning to view in the movies that we watch.
You are the hero of your own life adventure and hero adventures are about overcoming obstacles, sacrificing one’s personal interests, gaining self-knowledge and acting in the service of others. The hero adventure is also about transformation—meaning a process of personal change, within us. Such change, often, is one of aligning ourselves with ourselves—with our bliss, with our joy, with our happiness and that which is uniquely “us”.
If you wrestle with your fear, remember these thoughts:
If something has been done before, it can be done again.
If something has never been done before, remember that every act, throughout world history, had its beginning somewhere.
“Fear makes the wolf bigger than he is” – German proverb