One of my favorite movies is the Replacements. The movie tracks a team of ‘scabs’ who fill in when pro football players go on strike. During one team meeting in the locker room, the coach asks what are they afraid of. One guys says spiders. Another says bees. When the quarterback says quicksand, the team doesn’t get it at first. He goes on to explain he is afraid of feeling like he is in over his head.
I don’t know about you, but I can understand that.
I’m not afraid of much. Supernatural creatures such as ghosts, vampires, werewolves, or whatever don’t scare me… I know they aren’t real. I’m not really scared of many real life animals. Don’t get me wrong, I have no desire to come across a bear or mountain lion, but I’m not terrified of them. I suppose I’ve live in Florida long enough, because gators don’t really scare me either.
If I were to name an animal I’m afraid of, it’d probably be sharks. But honestly, that’s more about being terrified of water I can’t touch or see the bottom. What scares me the most about that is the unknown.
My junior year of high school I got into rock climbing and rappelling. My dad, brother, and I scoured areas for good places to climb and rappel. I picked up the book Dixie Cragger’s Atlas to help us find routes. We found ourselves at Mt. Currahee near Toccoa a lot. One day we heard about Mt. Yonah outside Cleveland, Ga. We decided we had to check it out. Back then, you could drive up a gravel road all the way to the top. Mt. Yonah is a glorious rock face that is wider than it is tall and it’s pretty tall. I once threw at 320 foot rope down a rappelling route only to find it was about 40 feet short.
The first time we went to scout Yonah, the weather was not conducive to climbing or rappelling so we decided to just scout it by walking around and trying to get a lay of the land. We drove to the top and started working out way back down, trying to find out way to bottom of the rock face. My brother and I went down one path and my dad went down another by himself. The weather bad, I mean bad. It was overcast cloudy, you couldn’t see more than 15-20 feet in front of you. And the wind, the wind was just gusting and blowing… it was roaring. We could barely hear ourselves standing right next to each other. A few minutes into our scouting, the wind blowing and howling, my brother and I hear dad yelling for help. We called out to him to try to get a fix on where he was, where he fell, where he needed help. No response. We hear him calling for help again. We call to him and still no response. Just howling, roaring wind. A couple of teenage boys on a mountain in terrible weather, who are sure their dad is mortally injured at the bottom of some rack face and we can’t find him. I’m not saying we were scared, but I am saying we were starting to panic.
We started frantically search everywhere. Retracing our steps go to get a better vantage point of the base of the face. Moving forward down the path, following offshoots towards the base. Still can’t see anything, can’t find him.
Panic was almost full blown at this point. We were starting to get scared.
And then, out of nowhere here he comes down the path. He had worried look on his face and immediately asks if we are ok. He said he was sure he heard us calling for help and he had been frantically looking for us. We are looked at each other confused and concluded the wind and the weather conditions had been playing tricks on us. We headed back to the van and got out of there for the day. We would go on to go back to Yonah several times and had many good experiences there, none quite like the first. Although, the experience of having to tie a rope on to the end of another rope to be able to make it down the cliff face ranks up there.
As I think about this experience and the impact it had on me, I relate it to my fears and what really scares me. Yeah, I am afraid of sharks… but more than the sharks I’m afraid of the unknown. And if I take an honest assessment, the unknown is one of my fears. I fear not knowing. I fear facing unknown variables. The not knowing is very hard for me. This is reasonable. Many people fear what they don’t know. Many people fear what comes next when they can’t control what is next. After much soul-searching, I have come realize my other big fear… fear of abandonment. This fear makes no sense at all. I have never been abandoned in my life. Neither real or perceived. This fear is totally unreasonable.
Whether reasonable or not, fears are impactful and are a driving force in how we act and behave. Knowing my fears has better equipped me to manage my thoughts and emotions each day. I am better equipped knowing what I am afraid of. What are you afraid of?
One Reply to “What are you afraid of?”
That experience is one that I will never forget. But fearing the unknown is not uncommon. I’ve always hated change partly because there’s always the chance there’s something I haven’t planned for out there.