No Fear, No Rush
By Kent Lewis
I'm 33 years old and have yet to break a bone (knock on wood). Despite this fact, or maybe because of it, I've had a lifelong fear of breaking a bone, bordering on an obsession. The thought of hearing or seeing a broken bone, let alone feeling the pain, makes me nauseated. At the same time, like most guys, I tend to lean toward recreational activities that offer a high risk of broken bones: skiing, skateboarding, cycling, etc. Not only did I participate in these sports in my youth, I was at my happiest while participating in them.
I have a theory that what we fear most is linked to the activity that we get the most enjoyment from. I'm still in the early stages of perfecting the Lewis Theory, but I'd like to try it out on you for size, so please bear with me.
Think of your biggest fears in life (besides death and taxes), and compare those to the activities that give you the most enjoyment. I think you'll be surprised by the direct correlation between the two. Notwithstanding, reading, board games and sex, the relationship between unadulterated fear and adrenaline-induced pleasure is a paper-thin line indeed.
Perhaps a few examples are in order. In college, I took up rock climbing. I enjoyed the physical and mental exertion, and the resulting adrenaline rush. When you're clinging to a rock a few hundred feet up, your mind is amazingly clear and your mind and body become one. It's an incredible experience. At the same time, my fear of heights (or more accurately my fear of falling) is relatively acute. My enjoyment is directly correlated to my inner fear of approaching the ground too rapidly.
I enjoy racing my car on auto club days at the local track. Similar to rock climbing, track driving requires complete attention and creates a narcosis of sorts. After 20 minutes of high-speed maneuvers, you often exit your car drenched in sweat. Some of that is due to my innate fear of automobile accidents. I often think about friends I've lost to accidents and get the shivers when I drive in extremely poor weather conditions. Yet, as often as I can, I dole out $125 to risk wrecking my car and my life on the track.
Since Jaws first debuted in 1975, I've had an aversion to deep water. If I can't see the bottom through the water, I assume there is a creature, likely a shark, lurking beneath. But then I'm rarely more content than when I'm bodysurfing. The feel of the wave's power, the warm water, the sand and sun, they all team up to overpower my fear of shark attacks, drowning or getting de-pantsed by a rogue wave.
Unfortunately, I'm only able to hit the track or bodysurf once a year at most, so I look to other forms of enjoyment the rest of the time. I've found it in cycling and snowboarding. The former combines two fears: auto accidents and broken bones, while the latter touches on my dislike of cold weather, and that broken bones thing again.
I bike to work as much as I can, and have already paid the price with stitches on my nose from an unscheduled run-in with an incompetent cyclist. I've had better success with snowboarding, but I push my luck as I improve my skills and seek even greater rushes. For this reason, I stopped skiing in the first place. The adrenaline wasn't there for me anymore, so I switched sports to stop myself from staking out higher cliffs to drop in from.
We all have our sources of pleasure, and while not all are directly connected with our greatest fears, often enough, they are. In fact, I've never considered myself a good writer, and I have a fear of being disrespected or mocked by readers. So why on earth do I continue to write? Perhaps because I enjoy knowing that you've spent the time to read this far, and that you might enjoy Anvil enough to let us know.