My husband, Edwin, and son, Forest, are rock climbers and very hardy mountain climbers and hikers. I’m a hiker and occasional rock climber, too, but there’s a big difference between us. Edwin and Forest are fearless. They walk right up to cliff edges, leap over crevasses, and sprint across logs high over rocky streams. I lie on my belly near cliff edges, climb down, across, and back up crevasses, and crawl over those same logs. I also fall and slip far more often than they.
I can’t explain my more frequent falls by carelessness, since I’m the epitome of careful. I could chalk my falls up to being less coordinated, but since I was a gymnast, specializing in the balance beam, and have been a dancer since childhood, lack of coordination isn’t the problem.
I fall more because I’m afraid. When I’m confident and unafraid, I hike and climb well, smoothly, and without mishap, just like they do.
What does this have to do with MOGO? When we are afraid, we may decline the adventure of making choices that do the most good and the least harm because we may worry we will be different, inconvenienced, less secure, or isolated from friends, family, neighbors, or religious communities. And when we fear, we may fall off the MOGO path that asks us to inquire about the effects of our choices, introspect, and live with integrity. “Not worth it,” we might say, fearful.
So how do we become unafraid?
We choose to be courageous.
Courage is not the same as fearlessness. Courage is when we do something despite our fear. I think I’m much more courageous than Edwin and Forest when it comes to rock climbing because I’m often terrified, and I climb anyway. They don’t need courage because they’re not afraid. Initially, this courage doesn’t keep me from slipping or falling, since fear still makes me unsteady. What courage does is slowly but surely supplant fear with confidence as I slip and survive, as I fall and get up again, as I reach a peak and feel euphoric.
When we courageously choose MOGO, we discover that new choices bring unexpected benefits. We make new friends, create exciting, supportive new communities, deepen our sense of self respect and inner peace, discover more joy, and often greater health. And one day we realize we’re no longer afraid.
Zoe's leading IHE's student residency this week, so this is a repost, originally posted 4/7/08.
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