Listening to the Voice Inside: Facing Risk

I’ve mentioned before that I’m scared of flying, and of course I’m flying tomorrow, so I’ve been experiencing some low-level anxiety for a few weeks now. My counter to the whole painful experience has been educating myself on flight and the mechanics thereof, which works to a certain point. I’ve installed a gravitometer app on my iPad and tested it on bumpy roads to get a feel for just how much bumpier a road can be than the turbulence on a plane – it actually surprised me a great deal. I’ve watched videos, I’ve read the statistics, etc. While I’m not as terrified as I have been in the past and consider that a great victory, I’m still experiencing that hum of anxiety in the back of my head. The one that only anti-anxiety medication can knock out.

Why do I bring this up again? Because I “spoke” to my 20-year-old self yesterday, and he had a few things to say about the whole situation.

Let's pretend I looked something like this.

I should back up a bit here and explain why I chose myself at the age of 20. While I had a lot of growing up to do and quite a lot of learning about myself, relationships, and social functioning, I also had a leg up on where I currently stand: I was trying to live the embodiment of my writing philosophy. That philosophy? Let nothing stand in the way of useful experience, as that experience can make you grow as a writer, give you more to communicate to others. The job of the writer, as I thought at the time, was to serve as something of the eyes and ears of their readers. This meant that I pursued a lot of adventures as a young man, from jumping in a van and driving halfway across the country to meet total strangers that I only spoke to on the Internet to flying halfway around the world to South Africa (let me tell you, THAT was a flight). My point is that, while I still felt the fear, I also felt an obligation to do more with my life.

I had somewhat forgotten about this philosophy until lately. I guess some of the cliches about middle age are true: you do want to be more secure and safer. The problem is that this causes one to retreat into their shell, and it becomes more difficult to tell relevant stories even while you dig deep into the experiences of your life. There’s a balance to be had there, that’s for sure, but I needed to remember that spirit of adventure – the same spirit that prompted me to write in the first place.

Now, this is not about writing as a metaphor for anything, it’s more about keeping my eye on that early philosophy, of allowing myself to become something of a conduit for readers, whether it’s in the strange things that come from my imagination or my real-world experiences, like stopping in at an illegal bar (shebeen) in South Africa, riding out a hurricane, and fighting jet lag in the Amsterdam international airport. I think I lost touch of that sense of adventure somewhere, and I’m ready to get it back, so bring on the Las Vegas Strip. Here’s to this week’s trip. I’ll be sharing what I can with you fine folks as the trip progresses.

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  1. Thanks for sharing that…risk is very important for creators in general; if we don’t have it through our adventures, then it shows up & puts our stability in serious danger…and we risk losing Everything. Hang tough!

  2. So true, Jonathan. I think I got conservative when I had kids. Or maybe before that, when I married someone more cautious. Until then, it was all cliff jumping, road trips, and body surfing.

    I wish you the best on your upcoming adventure!

  3. I find that I am not less adventurous, just pickier about where I adventure. Of course, crazy stuff can go down just right around the corner from my house (Saturday night). Or in my house – I had poltergeist activity Sunday morning!

    All of this is really my way of saying: enjoy the journey, have a beautiful wedding, and may your adventures be bountiful, thrilling, and sometimes hilarious!

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