Friday, October 22, 2010

Fear of flying

No, I don't mean the literal fear of getting on an airplane, although I suppose it might be relevant (Oddly enough, Asimov, one of, if not the, greatest science fiction writers of all time could not bear to get on an airplane. He never traveled far from New York).

I mean that a lot of people who might be very good writers are paralyzed by fear. What if I get rejected? What if I'm not good enough? What if I become too successful and the paparazzi come after me? Fear of success can be as hard to deal with as fear of failure, and some people experience both.

I'm going to use that ancient literary device of the parable.

The barn I ride at has a horse named Toby. Toby is of uncertain breeding, most likely a Thoroughbred crossed with some kind of Draft horse. If he is, he's the poster child for exactly why that particular cross needs to be approached with care...he has all the grace and agility of a Mack truck.

Toby is an animal dominated by fear. As sometimes happens with horses, his flight instinct is tuned way too high. This is a horse who has been known to spook the entire length of the arena because somebody standing at one end turned the page in a newspaper. Fly spraying him requires at least two people, sometimes three.

On top of that, he has to weigh 1400 pounds. To put this in perspective; the average modern riding horse weighs between 1100 and 1200 pounds. So, he's about a person heavier. He is HUGE.

Confession: The first time I saw that horse ridden, he terrified me. There was this ginormous thing closer in size to an elephant than to the cobs I was used to riding...and he wasn't calm. I was terrified that if I went near him I would become scared of him, he would become scared of me, and the anxiety would feed back into a wreck. And you can't take chances with an animal that size.

This week, I rode Toby. I finally found the courage to do so. And discovered...that he is *really easy to ride*. Sure, he spooks at things, but if you have the confidence and talk to him a little, he will settle right back down. He's insanely responsive...you only have to think 'turn' and he turns. Everything is easy to do with him. I won't say he's an awesome horse...not with that conformation. But he's sure as heck a FUN horse.

So, lesson. If you're afraid of something because its big and scary and it might reject you...don't be. Because in the end, it is NEVER as bad as you fear it might be. And it might even be fun.