I hate spiders. I really do… I think it started when I saw a movie called Arachnophobia back when I was at that age when you can’t really tell the difference between fiction and reality. I mean, I also blame Jaws for instilling that fear about sharks in me but I digress. Spiders (shoulder shudder). Australia has some giant ones called trap spiders and they eat birds. They hide in the ground and if you’re close enough… bam! Trapped. So when I found myself sea kayaking in Australia in the Daintree area near Cairns (up north, where you go to scuba dive the great barrier reef which we also did for the show), I never imagined willingly entering the Rainforest to trek at night in search of those critters, along with bats and other nightmarish species that come out to play in the dark. However, the interesting thing about Courage or Fear is that we have the capability to choose either at any given moment and it really does boil down to motivation and choice. In my case, this is how it happened:
Being a single guy at both the time of filming that episode and the writing of this post I do admit that like many if not most men I do make some choices based on instinct. I had returned from Sea Kayaking into this empty beach… empty except for this beautiful blonde girl that was sketching on the beach. I heard choruses of angles and wedding bells in my head because come on, what a great story if it worked out, right? I approached and we became friends. I asked her what she was up to that evening and she mentioned that she was going on this epic night jungle walk tour where for two hours you walk around the jungle at night with a flashlight. No path, just the flashlight. She smiled: “That sounds great right?” I smiled and nodded as I remember having the thought, there is literally nothing I’d want to do less. But, compelled by the sunlight glistening on her golden hair and those aqua eyes I heard myself speaking on autopilot “Can I join you?” She said of course and that was that. I rushed back to my hotel to get ready and sure enough, this white van showed up: Jungle Night Tour ominously written on the side. Trying to look confident and relaxed I jumped into the van and quickly scanned it. She wasn’t there. I was sure we were about to stop by her hotel to pick her up, but then we began to head up into the mountains. Weeks later I’d find out from her that she was waiting outside her hotel and the driver just forgot to pick her up! Unbelievable.
So there I was, stuck facing one of my greatest fears… creepy crawlers all around, waving a flashlight like Luke Skywalker would’ve waived his light-saber, as if that was going to keep one of these things from jumping on me! Two hours seemed like twenty but I got out of there alive and in one piece, albeit slightly traumatized. I did learn one lesson though; we can face almost any fear if we have the right motivation. So, if infatuation is not available to us the next time we’re offered the opportunity to step out of our comfort zone, what I’ve found that also works great for me is gratitude. Fear and gratitude cannot occupy our hearts at the same time. The next time you feel too afraid to start giving thanks, force your mind to do it and before you know it you’ll feel fear dissipate and joy will begin to fill your heart. I did stay friends through social media with that lovely girl at the beach and I haven’t seen her since (we might meet up this summer) but I do believe that encounter had to happen because life will often push us to overcome our fears because there is nothing that will boost our confidence and grow us more as individuals. So whatever your fears are, face them… they’re never as scary as they seem and it’s always more fulfilling than we imagine. Who knows, maybe you’ll end up meeting that special someone on the other side!