KICK’N Hard Feature Story
Expert advice from Lizzy Hawker, Great Britain’s endurance athlete, 24hr world record holder,
5 Time UTMB winner and 100km world champion who loves the mountains
Fear (in some guise) is something that is with us every day, much as we might wish otherwise. But facing our fears might be the only way to see the beauty that is staring us in the face?
I started thinking about fear after reading an article on zenhabits about how to face fear and do.
With the (sometimes wonderful, sometimes almost scary) interconnectedness of social media when I tweeted about this, a link to a beautiful poem came back to me. It is in the book Face Dancing by Neil Gresham.
The book is a memorial to a talented young woman, Rachel Farmer, who died far too young. She was one of Britain’s top women climbers when she died from a fall at Buoux in 1993 at age 22.
SEARCHING FOR THOSE EDGES
We are all afraid. What we are each afraid of will be as different as those edges that we are each searching for.
Some of us are afraid to run 100 miles. Some of us are afraid to stand still. Some of us are afraid to climb mountains. Some of us are afraid to dive into the sea. Some of us are afraid to try something new. Some of us are afraid of the 9 to 5. Some of us are afraid of things most people would totally understand. Some of us are afraid of things that most people would laugh at, if only they knew.
FACING MANASLU ‒ THE MOUNTAIN OF SPIRIT
In our recent race (almost) circumnavigating Manaslu, that beautiful 8156m Mountain of Spirit, we each had some fears.
For some it was the prospect of running for day after day, day after day. For some it was the unfamiliar food. For some it was the altitude. For some it was trying to keep warm. For some it was non western toilets. For some it was the lack of electricity. For some it was being out of contact with home.
People faced their fears, lived through them, and found that in doing so, they were strengthened to go far beyond where they thought their limits were. They have my utmost respect.
I too have been challenged by each of those fears in turn.
But, now over the years, the day to day life of running on those sky high trails has become a sort of normal. It is where I feel at home.
But, as I said, we each had some fears and I found some of my own. Fears that I have either ignored, or turned and run from in the past. And, unlike my fellow runners, I didn’t quite manage to face those fears head on this time. They are still there waiting for me.
Fear is more often than not, either a fear of the unknown, or a fear of failing, or a combination of both. But, there are no certitudes.
As the poem tells us, we have to learn, feel, change, grow, love, so that we can live and be alive.
If we can face those fears, let them pass through us and beyond, then they will be gone, and we will realise that we are not our fears. We no longer have to identify ourselves with them, be defined by them.
They simply come, and they go. We can just watch, and be aware of them. But we come to realise they are not what we are.
So, then there is no need to get stuck, is there?
No need to allow ourselves to be defined by what it is that we are afraid of? Well, no, but sometimes we still all need a friend to help us.
And then, maybe then, we can redefine what is normal for us, again and again, and again?