Six LDS Writers and A Frog

Thursday, June 21, 2007

The Fear Factor

Since I can't think of anything else to say about the Whitney Awards that hasn't already been said, today I am going to blog about fear. And possibly about how much I fear what Robison Wells will do to me when he realizes I didn't do my entire blog about his beloved Whitney Awards. In order to appease fair Robison, I have prepared an original Julie Coulter Bellon limerick about the Whitney Awards.

*Drum roll please*

The Whitney Awards are just what we need
Robison E. Wells has planted the seed
You should nominate
Books you like not hate
It would be an honor to win indeed

Now on to my blog . . .

The Fear Factor
by Julie Coulter Bellon

Last Friday was a day I won’t soon forget.

My daughter returned home from girls’ camp Friday afternoon and our family had made plans to go camping that evening with some friends of ours. My daughter didn’t want to camp anymore, since she’d been camping all week, so she agreed to come to dinner, then I would drive her home from the campsite. All seemed well, the plan was in place.

After dinner, I started down the mountain with my daughter. Since we had crossed up and over the other side of the mountain, I hadn’t realized how steep and narrow the road was going down the other side until I was actually driving it. It didn’t seem too bad, though, and within twenty minutes we were home. But then it was time to go back. By myself. All alone.

I got to the mouth of the canyon and started up the road, but what I didn’t realize is how incredibly dark it becomes when it’s twilight and you’re in a forest. The paved road soon turned to the graveled road and I started up the steep climb that I had so easily come down. Only this time it was dark and the road seemed narrower and narrower the higher up I got.

From previous blogs, you know that I am afraid of heights so to have a steep dropoff be on one side of me was completely freaking me out. I had visions of going a little too far to the right and rolling off the embankment to my death. It wasn’t pretty.

To top it off, I had a car come roaring up behind me and the driver crept so close to me I wondered if he could see any rust on my tailpipe, even with how dark it was. He proceeded to tailgate me all the way up the mountain, which made me even more nervous, yet at the same time it was strangely comforting because since there wasn’t anyone else on this little road, I knew that if I did go over the embankment, at least someone would know I had. Even if he was an idiot who apparently didn’t know how to drive. (But knowing my luck he would probably just be grateful I wasn’t in front of him anymore and speed off!)

I crept higher and higher up the mountain, until the one thing I dreaded happened. Someone was coming the other way. It was a large horse trailer and I honestly didn’t know how both of us were going to fit on this tiny narrow road. I scooted over to the edge as far as I possibly could, my heart doing double time beats as I tried very hard not to look down into the canyon. The horse trailer driver was trying his best to squeeze around my van, but his rather large rearview mirror looked like it was going to hit mine, so I scooted over a tiny bit more until I felt the tires on my car start to slip a little on the dirt and gravel that only led to one place. Down into the canyon. Down the mountain. To my death.

I think my heart must have stopped beating for a second as I scrambled to get the car back on the road without hitting either the horse trailer or the guy who was still doggedly checking out my tailpipe behind me. But once I was firmly back on the road, I felt strangely calm. I had done it. I was able to keep my wits about me and methodically do what needed to be done. I didn’t dissolve into hysterics. I didn’t let the tail-gater or the darkness or the fact that we were very high up on a mountain with no barriers to save me if I fell completely overwhelm me. I hadn’t given in to the fear.

It was a good feeling to have faced that once it was over. Even though it took me quite a while to get back to camp and my husband was actually preparing to come and look for me, I still felt like I had faced a fear and come out a little stronger for it.

Have you ever faced a fear? What was the outcome? Is it important to overcome fears? I would be interested to hear your thoughts and experiences.


At 6/21/2007 5:56 PM, Blogger The Casual Geek said...

Okay, I'll bite on this one.

I was in Army Basic Training going through what they called the Confidence Course, I suppose because it was supposed to build our confidence in ourselves and each other. It consisted of several obstacles that needed to be overcome in various ways. Not being the athletic type (yes, I joined the Army National Guard to pay for college), and being somewhat afraid of heights, I wasn't really doing well on this course.

One of the obstacles was a huge ladder-like construction of two poles with crossbars about four feet apart that went a good fifty feet into the air. At the top, of course, the crossbars got spaced farther apart, so that (at least for me) the top bar and the one below it were spaced just enough apart that I couldn't reach it with the top bar tucked into my armpits.

So here I am, at the top of this horrible ladder, hanging by my arms and unable to reach the next rung. I had heard the phrase "paralyzed by fear" before, but that was the first time I think I'd actually experienced it. Of course, the drill sergeant came along and threatened to shake the ladder and make me fall (and not even he was strong enough to actually do anything), which panicked me into finally slipping off of the top rung far enough to get my feet on the next one, and then I managed to get down.

I don't think I actually learned anything about overcoming fears or anything like that. But I did get a good story to tell my kids.

At 6/21/2007 6:13 PM, Blogger Julie Coulter Bellon said...

Casual Geek I totally would have freaked if that had happened to me. Even reading it gave me a little chill.

Maybe it is all about building confidence in ourselves and others.

Thanks for that story and insight.

At 6/22/2007 1:59 AM, Blogger Stephanie Black said...

Oh my goodness, Julie! I am freaked out on your behalf! I don't have any profound insights regarding fear in such situations, unless sweating, shaking, and shrieking count as insights, since that's probably what I would do. That and lots of praying.

At 6/22/2007 10:21 AM, Blogger Anne Bradshaw said...

Whoa! Scary story, Julie. Made my heart race. Cliff and mountain road edges are my worst nightmare--just ask my husband!

Congrats on keeping your cool. I'd have been jelly--total, freaked out jelly. Not a driver to be with on a narrow mountain road.


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