195 / 235

Don’t Be Afraid

I didn’t saunter to the turquoise shore
as the light of day passed
through casual clouds.
I bolted in to join
the clams, the sea stars,
the pufferfish lazing about. 
The sea lions swam up to my face
and twirled with grace around me
as if I were one of them.
What does it mean?
What does it mean to exist?
The thing I learned was not
the answer to this question.
Instead it was to exist 
without asking. 
The moment, all it said was
don’t be afraid. 

Sun, Aug 18, 2019 | Model info | Footnotes

Tatiana was born outside of Moscow but has lived the majority of her life in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. She recently moved to Las Vegas, Nevada, but today's episode is from a beautiful little town on the Mexican Baja Peninsula called La Paz. In English, La Paz translates directly to "The Peace." 

Tatiana is an expert swimmer who used to swim competitively, told me she didn’t like getting into the ocean where she couldn’t see the ocean floor. She said it scared her, that it brought on panic and discomfort. And then our boat approached sea lions basking on giant rocks in the sun in the middle of the sea, sliding in and out of the water like frolicking puppies. And even before our guide jumped in, Tatiana was gone, swimming with the sea lions. She forgot about her fear (of sharks and giant squid and the incredible unknown of the sea) because the moment called upon her not to be afraid.

Our fears are often warranted, the result of billions of years of evolution. Then again, our fears are also the result of the media we are fed, because someone has a motive for scaring us. How do we know when to trust fear and when to let it go? It’s a case-by-case situation—there isn’t a universal answer. In part, it depends on what’s important to us, what we’re willing to risk. Adventure often requires ignoring fear, and the souvenirs we are left with are our experiences. They give shape to our souls, to our existence. They fill us with joy and add layers of profundity. Sometimes the risk is worth the reward, and when fear is erased by excitement and wonder, it seems the answer is clear. Don’t be afraid. Jump in.

This is a story about Tatiana, but it’s also a story about everyone. We’ve all been in a situation like this. A situation that makes us afraid, and then we have to make a decision about what we are going to do. It’s funny how those decisions start to define us.