Ed and I lay there paralyzed with fear. Arms straight at our sides, faces looking up through our mesh tent and wondering how we had gotten ourselves into this bizarre situation! Seriously, we just lay there frozen. Even the hair on my arms were under very strict instruction to stay put and not even think of enjoying a dance in the evening breeze.
I eventually plucked up the nerve to ask, so softly that it was almost inaudible, “are you asleep?” Ed replied with an equally as quiet and tentative voice, “I am never sleeping again”.
It was at that point, I could very honestly say … I’ve experienced fear!
12 HOURS EARLIER...
We had arrived in Kununarra, in far north Western Australia, after weeks of backpacking and campervan-ing it around the continent ready to explore the area. We had already racked up a list of crazy adventures in the weeks on the road but were eager to have another. Our decision on what journey to take next became easy when we saw an advertisement for a local company that specialized in canoe trips. It struck us a bit odd because Aussie’s are not known for hiking through a forest carrying a canoe on their backs! But as two Canadians with a number of Algonquin canoe trips under our belts, we were intrigued and ready to jump in. We decided to do the 3 day canoe trip in 2 days… why 2 days instead of 3?
One…we were being out right jolly arrogant about our abilities!
Two...that is the time we had available before having to move onto the next town!
Yes, we could have just enjoyed the one day experience that was offered to toodle around on a local lake, but come on, we had to show how a Canadian takes on the wilderness! So, we did… kind of!
This wacky adventure ended up including much more than we bargained for:
- an eager guide who offered us kayak paddles instead of canoe ones because he thought they would help us ‘go faster’ (needless to say we gave him an education on the purpose of different paddles!)
- the same guide giving us our promised food in a large awkward blue cooler (which was broken into by an unknown animal who could actually twist off a cap on a jar... yeah another story for another day!)
- Ed and I arguing over how to actually pronounce ‘zebra’ (we canoed to a place that harvests zebra rock and it all went down hill from there!)
- Ed tossing his flip flop (yeah, not the smartest foot-ware when hiking… don’t even get me started!) into a very well-constructed black widow nest which he felt he HAD to retrieve… and did.
There is no surprise that I lost my nut on that last one and threatened to leave him behind if the spiders started to attack him! Yup, I become quite kind and loving when I am worried about a friend dying!
After a solid day of paddling around, we arrived at our campsite that had a beautiful view of the river and a wooden platform that stood one foot above the ground. This is where we were told was our only option to set up our tent. The reason for this became clear when it became pitch black out, we were lying in our tent and the only thing we were concentrating on listening to were crocodiles hunting for food at the water’s edge.
Then it happened… a crocodile meandered his way up to our wee platform and moved around under us with great vim and vigor allowing his tale to hit the posts of our platform home with impressive force.
We were officially “sleeping” above a crocodile.
This experience gave me a GREAT perspective on fear!
Fear is such a funny thing. It has been my excuse for not doing things that I have wanted to do, or for not meeting a person I have wanted to meet. Basically, fear has always been what I blame when I choose to hold myself back. But, has it really been fear I have felt every time? Fear is what I felt that night sleeping over a crocodile and that feeling is very different than what I experience when I am getting in my own way.
The question becomes,
How often have I confused the feeling of excitement for one of fear?
Because it turns out, they feel the same. The anxiousness and nervousness I get while anticipating doing something that is outside my comfort zone is excitement’s way of saying, “GO FOR IT”, not fear telling me to back down.
Excitement wants me to revel in my new adventures,
fear tells me I am not worth having them.
When I am faced with a situation where I am feeling fearful, I have to ask:
- What is the worst that could happen?
- What is REALLY holding me back?
- WHY am I excited?!
Plus in the end, no matter how an act of bravery turns out, there is always a great story to tell afterwards!
I am choosing to let excitement challenge me to do things out of the ordinary, explore areas that have me curious and enjoy laughing at how each and every adventure turns out. This to me is living.
Now before I do anything that makes me THINK I am afraid, I just tell myself…
Unless I am sleeping on top of a crocodile, I have
no reason to let fear hold me back.