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For the past couple of weeks, Rebecca and I have been re-watching each episode of the Game of Thrones TV series. Early on in the show one of the characters, Bran, asks his father:

  • Can a man still be brave if he’s afraid?

His father’s reply?

  • That is the only time a man can be brave.

Isn’t that the truth?

I have to imagine that virtually every soldier who has gone in to battle, unless he/she is completely out there, has felt some fear. They may not have shown it, but it still existed. And isn’t that the real definition of bravery, that in spite of their fears, they still did what needed to be done?

Not to draw a comparison with what I wrote in the paragraph above, I’m going to go on record to say that while sailing, there are countless times when I have found myself (at least) a bit afraid. Times when, due to weather or circumstances, I have found myself outside of my comfort zone. Note that we haven’t let those less-than-positive experiences keep us dock bound.

The quote below, reproduced and shared on a hundred different memes, strikes a chord with me.

“I’m not afraid of storms, for I’m learning how to sail my ship.”

While I haven’t read the book Little Women, the source of the above quote, I’m quite certain that the character is speaking metaphorically. I hope so, at least, Mother Nature’s storms should scare you! Assuming the author was speaking about life’s challenges, about not avoiding them and/or being able to deal with them, I get that. I really do. In some ways related, Rebecca and I both often look for opportunities that will help us to expand our comfort zone.

For example, I am not really a fan of heights. Because of an awareness of that fear, and hopes of getting over it, I took up rock climbing. Did it work? Am I no longer afraid of heights? Actually, I’d say that I still am. I will go up the mast to make a repair though, or sometimes, simply to take a nice photo. Surprisingly, I’ve come to enjoy the adrenaline that comes from climbing!

What’s the point of this post? I don’t really have one, except to suggest that you shouldn’t be afraid of expanding your comfort zone. In fact, you should seek out opportunities for doing so. Being uncomfortable, and sometimes even afraid, is OK. As the image below shows, that’s where the magic happens.

If you’re interested in reading more about my thoughts on the value of confidence, and on developing it, check out this post from 2010.

13 Comments

  1. Thanks for the insight and for helping remind us to not let our fears keep us from adventures—but rather to see our fears as an opportunity to expand our comfort zones! It’s fun to see your travels and experiences, thanks for sharing!

  2. I have nothing but admiration for people who do what you two are doing. It takes a ton of courage. I don’t think it is terribly dangerous but I have sailed enough to appreciate the fear factor and you have gone so much further than I. There is the sheer power of the ocean and facing that existential threat, and there is the considerable financial and personal risk. But that doesn’t stop you. Respect.

    One thing I personally have dealt with on a much lesser scale (but am equally happy about) is seeing my wife overcome her fear of sailing and become confident. It is amazing and it gives me hope. All it took was me shutting up for a few years and just letting her deal with it. She was – as you said – out of her comfort zone. I used to tell her, gently, that when she was scared just look over the lee side of the boat and see that nothing bad is happening, just the boat doing its thing as it was meant to, 4 knots through the beautiful water. Now if I could just get her to steer more.

    I also share the fear/ adrenaline addition of heights as well. It is bittersweet, no?

  3. “My fear is my only courage.” -Bob Marley

  4. As always, you are on point and right on time with your musings.
    Which are serendipitous in my life. I have followed you and Rebecca
    from the beginning of your journey/adventure, and there has been a stirring in
    my soul, a longing if you will. It has excited and scared the devil out of me all at once.
    “What if I can’t make it happen?”
    All along knowing that this is something I want/need.
    Not many understand, those who do give me faith and guidance
    I appreciate those who have gone before and I gain wisdom and courage and insight
    from their struggles. I have officially started Phase 1 of the getaway plan and I am
    still a little fearful, but the victory is in the struggle.
    Thanks for being a part of my upcoming victory….

  5. “The heroic conquers”

  6. The thing is (and this is what makes me wonder if I even WANT to cruise anymore) what if you are afraid ALL THE TIME! Its gotten so that my mind is constantly going through “what if’s” while on watch. Now, we’ve done over 16k miles in the last 3 years, so its not a newb to the seas type of thing. Its just a persistent niggling doubt that I get. I am soooo relieved to be in New Zealand now where I know that they have SAR capabilities equal to the US or Canada. I’m just not sure I can face those fears and set out to the deep Pacific again. Tine will tell. As you say (or infer) overcoming great fears bring great rewards.

    Wayne

  7. Well said. As a 5 time bareboat charterer in the Caribbean, I often think about why I love it so much in spite of the sometimes difficult situations: bad weather, mechanical problems, unfamiliar boat, unfamiliar ports, etc. The answer I consistently come up with is that it gets me out of my comfort zone and challenges me in ways I never get in my comfortable life on land. I also think about the Pink Floyd song, Comfortably Numb, and how easy it is to stay within your comfort zone and become comfortably numb.

  8. Keep your fears to yourself, but share your courage. — Robert Louis Stevenson.

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