Photos by Jan Bennett
“Ultimately we know deeply that the other side of every fear is a freedom.” ~Marilyn Ferguson
There are few emotions more powerful than fear. Fear of the unknown. Fear of failure. Fear of rejection. Yes. Even fear of success.
Our bodies have a built in mechanism for self protection in the face of uncertainty. The purity of childhood is gradually replaced by lessons learned, opportunities lost, and experiences gained.
When I set out to create the Pony Express bikepacking route I had no idea what kinds of obstacles I would face. I only knew that I was facing the unknown. Unknown terrain. Unknown roads. Unknown resupply points. Unknown physical abilities. I felt fear for all of these things, yet, somewhere along the way I found motivation in facing those fears.
In striking out to verify and document the route in an effort to make it available to others I confronted the faceless unknown. The process of facing those unknowns taught me about myself and helped me to reshape my perception of fear.
Fear went from the thing that kept me pinned down, afraid to succeed, to the motivation that helped me get up and moving every morning. Even when my mind and body would have been content to let me be.
I learned that I am more capable, more self sufficient, and more determined than I would have ever given myself credit for. I learned that in order to face my fears I had to first learn to identify them. The process of identifying those fears and confronting them lead me down a path of growth and self reflection.
Over the span of 6 weeks on the trail I finally realized that fear, like many other emotions, could be mastered. It could be controlled. It could be used to my benefit, but I had to overcome that initial hesitation before any of that would be possible.
I realized that I could learn more from embracing my fears than from running from them.
Developing a process, following through on that process, refining it, and honing it proved to me that the best way to face the unknown and to approach it with reason and intuition. I learned that my intuition is a powerful force. One which, when ignored, would leave me feeling anxious and doubtful. Yet, against all reason, when I would take the time to pause and listen, I would see the path laid out in front of me with clarity. It became obvious. I learned to use fear to my advantage and found peace. I became present in my body and with my surroundings. I began to see the world through a lens of light, not the shadows which once controlled me.
In escaping the chains of expectations and preconceived notions, both about others and about myself, I was able to recreate my view of the world around me. I was able to see the beauty in everyday activities and found the courage to continue into the unknown.
I learned to embrace fear. I learned what it meant to thrive, not just survive.
Fit 4 Adventure Guide