Why am I so fearful?

As I examine my life, I find that a strong undercurrent of fear rips through my consciousness.  The fear gives rise to all sorts of other emotions and ultimately prevents me from living a rich and full life.  I have become more aware of this undercurrent of fear as I have studied Buddhist teachings over the past year.

For months, I have been lurking on an email list sponsored by a group of local cyclists.  They ride weekly on Tuesday and Thursday nights, as well as on Saturday and Sunday mornings.  Their rides are no-drop rides (meaning no one gets left behind) and they average 25-40 miles per ride.  They advertise an average speed of 16 mph.  All of this would suggest that I am more than capable of keeping up and enjoying a ride with the group.

However I have been reluctant to join a ride out of fear.  The fear of not being able to keep up.  The fear of not knowing the etiquette of group rides.  The fear of getting a flat or dropping my chain during the ride.  Basically, the fear of not being good enough.

Last night, there was a ride organized for a 5:00 PM start.  I happened to have a conference call with my counterparts in Singapore last night at 9:00 PM so I left the office at 3:30.  This meant that I was actually home in time to sync up with the group.  I wasn’t sure if I was going to synch up with them or not, but I was riding in the direction of the designated start.

About a 1/4 mile from the designated start, I passed another rider and said hello to him.  Shortly there after, he was riding next to me and asked if I was meeting up with the group.  I said that I was thinking about it but hadn’t decided.  He introduced himself as Chris and we rode toward the designated start for a short distance before he said, “That’s them.  That’s Neil in the Schlitz jersey.”  Somehow I knew right then that I needed to ride with this group.

I started peddling with the group and was somewhat amazed that they were riding at my usual pace.  I was still thinking about whether I’d ride the whole ride with them when I suddenly realized that I’d turned with them off the B&A trail and I was riding with them.

We had a great ride, that included some back roads through Arnold that I’d never seen before, a trip down College Parkway to Sandy Point State Park, a tour through Saint Margret’s and a trip back up the trail.  In the end I road about 30 miles at a comfortable pace and really enjoyed the ride with the group.

As with most things, getting past my fear was my primary challenge.

6 thoughts on “Why am I so fearful?

  1. Powerful, real and timely for me to read. I’m struggling with some situations at work and realize that I’m responding out of fear. I’m glad you took that ride.

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  2. I had the same experience on the moonlight madness ride in 2008. I was nervous about the whole thing and afraid I’d bonk or get hit by a car (the ride started at 8 and I got home at 1230) or get separated from the group. But, I stuck with it and as I was reaching home (after a total of 40 miles in 98 degree 70 % humidity… hell) I felt really giddy for having done it. Truth is most riders are pretty mellow. The ones in sponsor-laden jerseys who never smile and appear to weigh 80 pounds I would still avoid, but the rest of humanity is pretty alright. 🙂 Enjoy!

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  3. “I’m glad you took that ride.” +1

    I’ve noticed a similar current in my own life, and it’s great to read that _someone_ is doing something about his own. 🙂

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    1. Johnny-

      I’m glad I took that ride too. It made a real difference in my perspective this week.

      I hope that things are well with you and your new family. (You’r little girl is ADORABLE!)

      I had (still do actually) a lot of fears when Mr. Grey was first here. Best of luck, and remember this, somehow despite all odds the human race has survived for eons even if our parents occasionally made mistakes and felt fear.

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