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Fear and self-loathing

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There was a time in my life when I wasn’t afraid of all that much, although regular trips to the emergency room starting at age five did teach me to be a little more cautious while wrestling my brother, playing soccer, football and rugby, walking down wood stairs in cotton socks, riding a 10 speed bike around sewer grates, riding skateboards around cars, and riding any two-wheeled device while inebriated. I spent so much time in the emergency room growing up that I actually saw the magazines get changed.

As I’ve grown older, the fear has slowly crept in – along with the wisdom that lets me rationalize my fears as perfectly understandable. We all do it.

There are things we don’t do because we’re flat out afraid to do them (e.g. Air Jordan, Clown Shoes, Gargamel, Pass The Sugar, Tower 27, S-Chute, double black rails, etc.). Most people can probably understand and sympathize.

And then there are things we won’t do because we’re afraid of getting fired, afraid of going broke, or afraid of being injured enough to miss something important – such as the rest of our lives. There’s also the very real fear of looking stupid, my specialty, or of failing spectacularly in front of a crowd. Also my specialty.

But living in Whistler is all about fear. To be more precise, Whistler is all about adrenalin, which is really just a byproduct of fear.

You can’t get an adrenalin rush on the couch, but riding the rock faces on Kill Me Thrill Me or the elevated bridges on A River Runs Through It does it every time. Ditto snowboarding the steeps off Spanky’s Ladder, picking a speed line through tight trees in Khyber, or dropping a late February cornice somewhere in Harmony Bowl.

We’re all here, to some degree, because we like being afraid and then conquering our fears. But after a while you discover that fear is always progressive – as soon as you conquer one fear, there’s always another waiting behind it; a steeper rock, a higher cliff, gnarlier roots, a more exposed line, or the promise of more air time,

Eventually a guy like me has to come to grips with his own limitations. It’s tough because every day I watch people do things I don’t think I’ll ever have the cojones to attempt.

It’s partly a mental game, the long process of either psyching myself up or out, but it’s also partly the realization that I don’t have the balance, skills, knees, gear or confidence in myself to keep up with all the fearless nutjobs who live in this town.

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