Never Too Old To Face Our Fears

Never Too Old To Face Our Fears

At the moment I am sitting about 30 miles north of Kona, HI. It is a beautiful afternoon with the temperature about 80 degrees, a mixed-cloud sky, and a soft breeze blowing the palm trees. I feel very privileged to spend some time in this wonderful State during the winter.

Even with all the laid-back mojo here on the Island I have watched several people come face-to-face with their fears. Fears that they likely don’t come face-to-face on a daily basis while at home on the Mainland.


Chris is a 13-year-old boy who I met on the Kohola Zipline last week. Chris and his dad were vacationing from Alaska. I was impressed how this rather timid young man stood on the first platform, and then stepped off into the empty space at a height of some 50 feet. His dad later explained that this was Chris’s second experience on a zipline. He was apparently willing to give it a try again a year after his first experience. On the course, there were times that he visibly looked afraid, but he never whined or hesitated…much. It was obvious this kid was not a “dare devil” type. But he did something his older sister and mom would not do.


Andy also came face-to-face with the Zipline. He is on the other end of the age spectrum appearing in his early 70’s. While he was pretty good at not voicing his anxiety, it was obviously at work. He would hug the tree while we waited to advance down the next leg of the course. I don’t think he ever looked over the edge of the waiting platform even though we were double safety-strapped to the line. It was the panicked look on his face that gave away his greatest fear while walking across the three suspension bridges. Each had steps about 12-16 inches apart, swayed easily, and had a lot of air between them. When Andy finished the Zipline experience and was asked for his reaction, he said, “well it was certainly interesting but nothing I would ever do again”. He confided to the group that he had always had a fear of heights. Like Chris, Andy faced his fears and stepped forward, even though his fears were some 60 years older in the making.


Mary appeared to be about 60-years of age. I met her on a guided afternoon/evening walk out to the Kilauea Volcano lava flow. The fear factor here arose in a couple of ways. First it was a seven-mile walk and she did not seem to be in the best physical condition. Second, we eventually left the dirt road and headed out on the rough year-old lava field. It was not easy walking for anyone with even the slightest balance issues. The challenges of the hike became even more pronounced when the sun began to set and we put on our headlamps. Walking on the hardened surface of the jet-black lava in a pitch-black dark night was quite disorienting. I could see concern on Mary’s face and hear it in her voice when she spoke. Walking down to the confluence of the hot flowing lava and the water, with just our headlamps added to the challenging experience. Having throngs of other people moving about on the uneven lava created several near or completed stumbles by several members of our group. Hiking back to the van with just our headlamps switched to “red” presented an added challenge with diminished visibility. There were numerous bike riders passing by us in the dark, brushing our arms in the dark. Some had lights while others did not. Dozens of other walkers were also playing matador to the bikers.


So what was my takeaway in watching these three people?

  1. Fear knows all ages, economic classes, educational levels and genders. It has no political preference.
  2. Each of these people faced their fear head-on. They could have quit but they did not.
  3. The earlier we face our fears the earlier we are able to conquer them.
  4. We never are too old to face our fears. That by the way is pretty splendid when you think about it. For we may possibly never feel so alive when we face and conquer our fears.

None of these three people would have had the growth experiences had they taken the “easy road of avoidance”. I love having mentors.


Tim Berry


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