Help, It’s a Snake! No, Wait, It’s a Stick.

Fear, believe it or not, can be a trusted adviser. When you’re about to be bitten by a rattlesnake, for example, that jolt of adrenaline and reflexive back-pedal can be a very good thing.

snake stickThe thing to remember is that fear is an instinctive, primal response. There’s not a lot of intellectualizing going on. In fact, the kind of fear that invokes a fight-or-flight response happens faster than we can form actual thought. Which is why fear absolutely deserves a seat on the bus–without fear, we’d probably all be dead.

At the same time, fear can also become a crippling limitation. If I step off a curb and hear a bus horn blaring, leaping back onto that curb was a smart move. But if I conclude from this incident that crossing streets is inherently unsafe and I will never, ever do it again, I have tipped over from fear into phobia. And I have limited myself unnecessarily, and pretty ridiculously.

Fear knows some stuff. When the hair rises on your arms, when a shiver goes down your spine, when your Spidey senses are on alert, it’s worth taking a listen and see what fear has to say.

But fear is just one of the advisers in your head, and fear, because it is so primitive and reflexive, can be absolutely off-base. It might help to think of fear as a small child. A child is capable of warning you when something threatening is about to happen. A child looks out for your well-being, because your well-being is intimately tied to hers. A child is worth listening to.

Except that fears, like children, can sometimes be over-the-top, silly, or just plain wrong. They don’t have all the information the rest of you does, so they process just one piece of the puzzle. Is that long thing on the path ahead of you a rattlesnake, or is it a stick? Only you–ALL of you–know for sure.

So keep fear in your corner. Notice it when it presses the alarm button. And then evaluate whether there’s really something to be afraid of, and, if so, what you’re going to do about it.

Fear makes a great passenger. But don’t let it drive your bus.

Raising your vibration is a great way to calm unreasonable or persistent fears. See how at

Fear of Falling

Last week, something horrible happened—the stuff of nightmares. 52-year-old Rosy Esparza was killed when she fell out of a roller coaster at Six Flags Over Texas.

Texas GiantNobody knows whether the locking bar that is supposed to hold riders in place failed, whether it wasn’t closed correctly in the first place–apparently Esparza questioned one of the ride operators and was told that as long as she had heard it “click” into place that it was okay, but no one double-checked–or whether the ride itself is inherently unsafe. It was revamped recently to make for an even steeper, thrill-producing experience. It is, of course, now closed and under heavy inspection.

Certainly no one at Six Flags or at the company who manufactured the roller coaster held the intention of someone losing their life.

So what’s the takeaway here? Is this particular roller coaster lethal? Is every roller coaster unsafe, even if just a little? Are all amusement park rides suspect?

Around the same time that Esparza died, a friend’s daughter lost her life at the camp where she was a counselor when a tree unexpectedly fell over onto her, a 3-year-old boy sleeping outside was run over by a truck making a U-turn, and a Las Vegas Cirque de Soleil performer fell 90 feet to her death at the end of a performance.

These are all tragedies. But while there may be cautionary lessons to be drawn from them, they are not warning signs to the rest of us to stop living our lives.

To live is to risk. We take a chance every time we step out of our house, even when we get out of bed. In fact, we’re not even “safe” in bed, considering the number of fatal heart attacks that happen during the small hours of the morning.

So what do we do? We take a deep breath. We grieve and honor the fallen. We keep going. And we don’t let fear–a useful adviser and not one we should categorically ignore–take over and start driving our bus.

Ride on, friends. Ride on.