"Fear is a cannibal that feeds upon itself. It lives in every dark shadow—wait’s around every corner. It can be in two places at once… on the path ahead, yet somehow always behind you. Fear hides in every decision, questioning your every move. And it’s your fault. You are the one who gives it life. You are the parent of your own fear. Every instinct tells us we can do nothing in the face of that which terrifies us. But that’s what fear is—instinct. We run because that is our nature. Better to run away and live to fight another day, or so the saying goes. But if we run, the cannibal feeds and grows stronger. Better to run towards your fear. Better still to face it. Stare it in the eye. Make it blink. Watch it shrink.” - Paul Jenkins, Batman the Dark Knight #1
As you all know, I am not a strong swimmer. And, as most of you know, in only three weeks I am supposed to run a 10-mile obstacle course in which one of the obstacles is to jump off of a 15' ledge into a pond and swim my way out of it.
A cold pond.
A pond filled with other flailing, leaping, mud-caked bodies.
I can feel fear creeping up my leg, slithering along my thigh, and grabbing my balls like some demon possessed. I am not happy. Hell, I don't even have anyone for support. My team has fallen through. It's just me, my two imaginary friends, and fear.
I've been afraid before. I've been afraid and managed to keep stepping forward. I'm not expecting to freeze up. I don't anticipate sheer, debilitating panic. And when it's all over with, I'll be quite insufferable, I'm sure.
But right now, fear is my companion. Fear, and a little dose of anger and disappointment at my supposed team. Hey,it's alright. I know what they are going through. I know how terrible this is going to be. It's called the Tough Mudder. It has dangling electrical wires. It has ice cold vats of water to wade through. It's 10-11 miles long. Oh, and did I mention the 15' fucking jump into a goddamned pond???
The officials at the Tough Mudder say that you can skip the swimming obstacles if you aren't a strong swimmer. This would be comforting if it were an option for me. I can skip this obstacle about as likely as I can skip the whole race. It ain't happening. I may need a stretcher at the end of it, but I'm jumping off of that ledge.
"Fear is a cannibal..." Good. Let it grow and snarl and gnash it's teeth and feed. But it, and I, are going over that fucking ledge and into drink.