Fear strikes out

I know a lot of us think that in order to overcome whatever fears we have, it is necessary to face them head on.

Don’t like heights?

Go up to the observatory deck of the Sears Tower or Empire State Building and have fun.

Don’t like water?

Take a cruise.

Painfully shy?

Ask out the prettiest girl in school.

Afraid of blogs?

Keep reading.

Facing fears head on has worked for many individuals. But ignoring them entirely is many times the path of people with certain fears.

One of the problems of facing fears directly is the potential for making the problem a lot worse. That is, you might very well become even more afraid of whatever it is you’re afraid of in the first place, should you face your fear head on.

It’s easier said than done to be brave enough to face one’s fears. Even if you should decide that one day you will choose this route to overcoming any particular fear, you could find yourself practicing avoidance, instead of planning a fear confrontation.

This approach is one procrastinators may adopt. And we all have been procrastinators at one time or another in life, so it’s not like we should beat ourselves up, right?

One way of overcoming fears that we don’t typically keep at the forefront of our mind is the possibility of managing to become unafraid of something by accident.

That’s right. By accident.

I was a little afraid of water and couldn’t swim as a young child, when one day I lost my footing at the bottom of a neighbor’s above ground, four-foot pool and found myself floating in the water. I started moving my hands in a treading water type of maneuver and suddenly realized that I didn’t need to thrash about; I was buoyant and soon floating on my back moments later–unafraid.

After all that it seemed silly to have been afraid of water. But I don’t know if I would have been able to swim otherwise if the accident of slipping on the pool bottom hadn’t occurred in the first place.

Today, I witnessed another creature who overcame a fear of theirs sort of by accident.

Our pit bull Yadi, who was five when we rescued him, has been our pride and joy for the past two and one-half years. With his gentle nature and loving spirit, he has single-handedly made us an advocate for the breed.

But with any dog you adopt that you didn’t have as a puppy, pit bull or otherwise, there are some things about them you just don’t know. They act certain ways and even if you try to gently coax or alter their behavior in another direction, they just don’t respond.

In Yadi’s particular case, he has never set foot in our basement. At first, we thought it was just that he thought the stairs were too steep. But this was not a reasonable explanation as he has never had issues with climbing and going down the steep stairs that lead to the house’s 2nd floor. It was just the basement he had problems with.

He would hover at the top step, maybe put both paws on the first step leading down, but that was as far as he would go. He would look at us below, but would never venture any further.

Today my better half went out the side door at the landing of the stairs to the basement. Yadi followed her outside along the side of the house. Then she came back in and Yadi followed her down the stairs to the basement—he was finally in the one place of the house he’s never been.

After sniffing everything that could be sniffed and finding a dog toy which he surgically removed the squeaker from, he eventually went upstairs and celebrated by racing around the main floor of the house frenetically—like he does after making number two (and don’t even think about it—there’s no number two in the basement)!

He finished the day by watching the Yankees come from behind victory against the Brewers with me in the basement—he on the couch here and me at my workstation.

I look forward to (hopefully) some of my best writing to come now that I’ll have my pal occasionally at my side while I work.

That is all and that is everything an accident should be.


Categories: Opinion

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