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January 16, 2003 / gus3

Fear Not

I had an interesting exchange with a co-worker today. He’s been burned by a couple of bad relationships, as a conversation over lunch proved. So I took the initiative to set him free.

I asked him when was the last time he struck up a conversation with a cute female "on the street." He couldn’t remember the last time he had done that. He became more than a little indignant when I said, "I thought so." I was a little amused, but pressed on.

"You’ve seen some pretty crappy stuff that life can hand a person, right?"

"Yeah, you could say that."

Here was the clincher: "And you’ve survived it all so far, haven’t you?"

He took a few extra seconds to let this one soak in. I continued:

"If you walked up to a woman, say, in a bar, and started talking to her, what’s the worst thing she could do? She could say, ‘Go away and leave me alone, creep.’ Maybe call you a couple other names. And you’d walk away. Nothing more."

It was the first time he’d ever heard his hesitation explained in terms of fear. Suddenly, it all made sense to him.

I explained, "There is very little that is worth true fear. A healthy respect, yes, but not fear. And fear is rarely good for dictating your actions. I’ve stood in front of a bull, waving a red cloth, and I was afraid, but I didn’t let the fear control me. And I walked away, unhurt. That one experience has liberated me from so much fear. You walked away from your own scarey situation, and you’re still here, right?" Nod.

For the sake of completeness, maybe I should point out the fine line between being Fearless, and being a jerk. Tomorrow, probably.

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