Letting go of fear … on the back of a motorcycle
I am very commonly misjudged as a person with little fears. I mean, after all, surely someone who can backpack the world on her lonesome must be tough as nails. And my goodness do I wish that was the case. However you may be surprised to learn that I am actually more fearful than most people I know. I am scared of heights, air-planes, fast speeds, hiking (yes, I have actually cried hiking I was so scared), most animals, motorcycles, anything with a free-fall and well … a whole bunch of others too embarrassing to list. Put simply I am absolutely chicken sh*t. I do however make it my duty not to let these fears inhibit my life in any way. So when asked to go on a motorbike ride through the mountains surrounding Seattle, naturally I accepted … completely terrified.
There are some fears you can get through life without having to face. A fear of freefall means that I find the idea of bungee jumping & skydiving particularly unpleasant. Does this in any way affect my day-to-day life? Not particularly. My fear of flying however does seem to pop up more than I would like. About to board my 30th flight this year, I will find myself inevitably in the same fearful predicament. My heart will race as the plane moves along the tarmac ready for take-off, as the engines roars my heart takes it up a notch or two and in those first few moments when the plane launches into the air I will wait for the nose of the plane to simply plummet back down from whence it came (whilst feeling the appropriate level of fear for this situation). Even more ridiculous is that I have kind of convinced myself I keep the plane upright through sheer will. I cannot sleep during a flight for fear that if I relax into the situation and stop wishing with all my might that we don’t crash, the plane will fall into a tail spin that will cause all of our deaths. I cannot relax without having my seatbelt on (like that is going to save me one bit in a crash) and always have to have a window seat to observe the wing is still upright when turbulence hits. Overall flying is a rather stressful experience for me.
I have always separated fear into two categories in my mind; ‘Life inhibitors’ and ‘non-life inhibitors’. My fear of flying for example would come under the category of ‘life inhibiting’ because if I was to allow this fear to rule me I would never have the opportunity to travel, and travel is one of my greatest joys in life. My fear of freefall however is what I would consider ‘non-life inhibiting’ as I can definitely live a long and incredible life without ever having to endure this particular fear. When told I need to skydive to get over my fear, I fail to see how doing an action once removes all fear and secondly how this would improve upon my life in any way. For me, it is a whole lotta stress for very little gain. The problem lies with those fears that fall into the grey area, like riding a motorcycle.
For those who get a high off adrenaline inducing activities I imagine getting on the back of a bike would be right up there with jumping out of a plane. I however found the idea both inviting yet terrifying. Intrigued by it but I also enjoy having my skin nicely wrapped around my body. So what to do? Well, the same way I deal with anything I know I need to do but really don’t want do to. Force myself into a situation where there is no possible way for me to back out.
Fast forward and last weekend I found myself riding 160/kph (100/mph) through the windy mountainous roads of Washington with a gang of about ten people on bikes. The wind was whipping my body and I was pretty sure I was about to be blown off the back of the bike any second BUT you know what … I loved it! There is something very freeing about simply letting go of a fear, sending it up and out of your body leaving yourself feeling momentarily weightless. I was once told by a very seemingly fearless friend of mine that in these situations you need to simply surrender yourself and let it all go and until that moment I had never really been able to do so.
So my ride on a motorcycle was so much more than simply that. It was the first of many other freeing experiences I endeavor to take on in the name of well, freedom.
After all, don’t we all just want to be free?