Conversations For Transformation: Essays Inspired By The Ideas Of Werner Erhard

Conversations For Transformation

Essays By Laurence Platt

Inspired By The Ideas Of Werner Erhard

And More


Take Your Fear With You

Chimney Rock, Napa Valley, California, USA

April 19, 2013



This essay, Take Your Fear With You, is the companion piece to

Skydiving. It's when you jump out of a perfectly functioning airplane tens of thousands of feet high in the sky for no reason  wearing a parachute.

It's safe. No, really: it's very  safe. Boxes of equipment are routinely dropped from airplanes by parachute without damaging them. A truck can be dropped from an airplane by parachute, and it will land safely. If an M1 Abrams tank  weighing tons and tons and tons  is dropped from a military transport plane by parachute, it will land softly enough to not even rattle its delicate instruments.

So what's the difference between dropping those heavy objects from an airplane by parachute, and a man or a woman jumping from an airplane wearing a parachute? Human beings weigh many many  pounds less than the tonnage of equipment, than the tonnage of a truck, than the tonnage of an M1 Abrams tank. If a parachute can safely handle the weight of equipment or a truck or an M1 Abrams tank, then clearly it can safely handle the relatively insignificant weight by comparison of a human being, yes?

Here's where dropping boxes of equipment or trucks or an M1 Abrams tank from an airplane by parachute is very  different than a human being jumping from an airplane wearing a parachute: boxes of equipment and trucks and M1 Abrams tanks don't have fear. Human beings have fear. That said, there's no other discernible difference. Both are equally safe.

Now here's the thing: knowing skydiving is safe doesn't stop fear. If you skydive you'll have fear (it's on automatic) regardless of knowing it's safe. Fear goeswith  skydiving (as Alan Watts may have said).

What there is to do while skydiving (this is a research opportunity)  is notice if you can give up  trying to handle  (get over, not feel, suppress) fear.

<aside>

I said what there is to do while skydiving is notice if you can give up trying to handle  fear. I didn't say what there is to do while skydiving is notice if you can give up fear.

It's a subtle, profound distinction.

<un-aside>

Here's the thing: you can't give up fear (try it) like you can give up a position or an attitude. The fear of jumping out of a perfectly functioning airplane tens of thousands of feet high in the sky is way too visceral. It's programmed. It's autonomic. It's the machinery. It's impossible to give up. Trying to give up fear is futile - like trying to give up your heartbeat. Instead of trying to give up fear, own it. When you skydive, take your fear with you.

Listen: I have  fear. Fear doesn't have me. That's not positive thinking. Neither is it psyching myself up for fear. Rather it puts fear in its proper context - in other words it reconcontextualizes  (I love  that word) fear. Be afraid for as long as you're afraid without stopping what you're doing. Be afraid ... and  ... skydive.

This  is courage. This is what it is to be courageous. Courage isn't having no fear. Courage is not stopping for fear. Courage is being unstopped by  fear. Take your fear with you. The skydivers' courage is having fear and jumping anyway.



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