As traceurs we all encounter a great deal of obstacles, but most of them we are able to surpass after some practice (that is what parkour is all about, after all). However, there is one obstacle that is taller than the highest wall, longer than the widest gap, and deeper than the greatest drop. I'm talking, of course, about irrational fear.
I'm not going to offer a solution to getting rid of all your fear - if I had one, I'd being doing cat leaps in a vault filled with giant blocks of gold, Scrooge McDuck style. However, a friend of mine recently said something on the subject that I thought was pretty profound.
We were eating out at this together. It was a busy night, and had the misfortune of being seated next to what had to be the sloppiest eater alive. This guy was a mess - some of his food came sloshing onto our table.
"Look buddy," my friend says to him, "can you not spray your shit onto our food?"
The guy looks up, and I see how totally buffed out he is. "Hey BUDDY," he replies, "how 'bout you shut your fucking face? I'm going to snap your fucking neck."
I'm ready to get the hell out of the place, but my pal just sat there. He moved his face in close to the other guy's, motioned for a waiter to come by, and asked him to move the asshole somewhere else. He went away eventually, after a bunch of cussing, saying that he'd "rather get away from these shitfaces anyway".
Anyways, I was pretty surprised, and asked him after the meal how he was able to keep his shit together when the guy was threatening him like that.
"Oh," he replied, "I served in the Israeli military when I was around your age. After you've had people who genuinely want you dead and are willing to shoot at you for it, after you've had tons of genuine fear, everything seems a lot more mellow." I left it at that, but I've been keeping it on my mind since.
I guess the moral of that whole bit there is that fear gets weaker the more you experience it. The best thing to do is not to reject it or to push it away, but to accept it, embrace it, integrate it, and act despite it. In this way, you can learn to ignore and eventually control the fear.
Wow, that was a bit more than I planned to write... let me know what you think. D: