When my son was seven, he was determined to pass level 3 of swimming. But to do that entailed diving off the diving board. That was something he had never done, and he was scared. He tried at every lesson, and chickened out every time. One day on the way to the pool I paraphrased to him a quote I had found on-line. “You know, Bob, courage isn’t not being afraid. Courage is being afraid, and doing it, anyway.”
Everyone’s afraid of something. There are the big universal fears like death and failure. But for most of us, our daily lives are full of small fears. Any time we do something that is outside of our comfort zone, more than likely that discomfort is caused by fear; spending time with people we don’t know well, speaking publicly, doing anything for the first time or even trying a new food. “I’m not comfortable with this,” often means, “I’m a little afraid.” Oh, but what great freedom it is when we are able to release our fears. Fear holds us back. But courage often gives us a wonderful sense of flourishing forward unabated, as if we have become unstoppable. Often, the power that courage gives us is the freedom to experience and create beautiful things.
What do Mendoza, Eastern Washington, Alsace, Victoria, and South Island all have in common? I’ll give you a hint. It has to do with the Andes, the Cascades, the Vosges, the Great Dividing Range, and the Southern Alps. They all benefit from the rain-shadow effect. When a rain cloud moves into a mountainous region heavy and pregnant with rain, she is too heavy to lift herself above the mountain. It is only by releasing her precipitation that she is able to rise up high enough to clear the peaks and continue eastward. This creates, on the eastern side of the mountain a terroir perfect for vineyards. Because of the rain-shadow effect, areas such as Mendoza, Eastern Washington, Alsace, Victoria, and South Island are optimal for growing grapes.
Bob wasn’t able that summer to overcome his fear of diving off the diving board. But he was able, in spite of his fear, to make the dive.
Sometimes we have to release our fears in order to create. Other times, when our fears won’t release us, we have to power through to get to the other side of scared.