Living Well in the Gorge August 3rd 2022

by Scott McKay

Were you ever called a “Fraidy Cat”? Unable to go to sleep without a night light. Or teased because you were too scared to watch Godzilla. Your imagination could run wild with all the “could be’s” and “maybe’s” - that monster could climb out from under the bed!

Fear. How many of our decisions are driven by this unpleasant emotion that often controls our lives? Afraid of seeing the doctor about a persistent cough, fearing the worse. Afraid of expressing what we really want to our adult children, because it may hurt their feelings. Afraid of starting a new activity because we might look silly or inept. Afraid of making an emotional commitment because it might not be shared - or last. And afraid of the unknown when an overzealous imagination conjures up only the worse that could happen. What are you afraid of that keeps you from doing what you want to do?

Our lives are full of fears. But it is important to distinguish between those things we are afraid of from those things that are truly dangerous. I may ride my bicycle along the Riverfront Trail, but I don’t think I will try a “backside heelflip” on a skateboard. And I will still use a step stool, but you won’t see me climbing thirty-foot ladders anymore. We are old enough to know where the line is between being fearless and just plain stupid. (Now let me point out that wearing a bright pair of lime green pants is not fearless or stupid – it is just showing really bad taste!)

Know the true risks. But don’t make your fear of what could happen make nothing happen. Because of our fears, we miss meeting new friends, starting new hobbies, or experiencing new adventures we never even imagined! Fear is a choice.

It takes tenacity and courage to move beyond our fears, to distinguish between the real dangers and the imagined, and to live our lives to their fullest, and although fear may be a passenger, don’t let it take control of the steering wheel.

To manage our fears, it helps to stay connected with family; enjoy the laughter and support of our friends, and plan and prepare for the “inevitables”. (I hate to remind you who are in denial, but we are going to get older; we are going to lose friends and loved ones; and someday, we will pass from this earthly existence - but hopefully not too soon!)

Life is too short to worry about how short life is; too short to play it safe and miss all the opportunities and possibilities. None of us know what is going to happen today or tomorrow, let alone ten years from now. But as we live with our fears, we can still embrace each day - while enjoying the dance as long as the music keeps playing.  April 2nd, 2013.

To read about Louise Palermo who lives with little fear and embraces each day with enthusiasm and heart, check out this month’s “Through the Eyes of an Elder”.

Brain Tease: Can you cut a cake into 8 pieces with three cuts?

The name of the flying insect that has a rear section that glows in the dark that many of us enjoyed catching during the summers was called a lightning bug in my home state of Indiana or a firefly in other parts of the country. I will mention those who sent in this week’s answers as well as last week’s answers next week.

This 1975 American thriller film directed by Steven Spielberg is the model for the summer blockbuster that we have come to expect. For this week’s “Remember When” question, what was the name of this movie, and for bonus points what was the fictional name of the New England beach town where the movie was set? Email your answer to mcseniorcenter@gmail.com, leave a message at 541-296-4788, or mail it with a map of Martha's Vineyard.

“Fear is an insidious and deadly thing. It can warp judgment, freeze reflexes, breed mistakes. Worse, it’s contagious.” Jimmy Stewart

Well, it has been another week, watching the pelicans bob in the river. Until we meet again, enjoy the special gift of each other – nothing on this earth is forever.

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