12 May Trade-in your fears for adventure
“I used to travel all across the US, to find the latest rides…I looooved the adrenaline-rush!! But, since my kids were born, something changed…I became more fearful of those kinds of activities… in fact, it’s so bad now, that I’m actually petrified of heights! I never used to be this way…”
This was a friend of mine, minutes before the cable-cars took us to the top of Table Mountain. And it wasn’t the first time I’ve had this kind of exchange.
Parents are quick to tell you – especially when you’re single – how drastically kids will alter your life. They repeatedly remind you how they cannot visit the same restaurants; how unfit and overweight they have become; and how their thinking patterns have changed, turning previously ‘exciting’ and ’thrilling’ activities into ‘mommy-might-die-so-best-avoid’ activities.
Trade up, or trade down?
Each life-stage we enter, brings with it a trade-off of some kind. These trade-offs aren’t always bad, but it’s necessary, and healthy for us to recognise them before we make the big choices.
Many of us pay more than we need to, in order to ‘advance’ on our journeys. We end up losing out on the fullness life has to offer, because we didn’t calculate the cost of a choice. It’s sad to see how the responsibility of a day-job can smother a young man’s dreams; or the infatuation of newly-weds can draw them away from loving friends & community, turning them into hermits. We lose out on amazing people when men exchange their adventurous lives for desk-jobs, in the name of ‘responsibility’, ‘adulthood’ or ‘it’s just the way it is’.
We tend to fall off the extreme edges when it comes to these choices; thinking that there’s only ebony or ivory: money or joy; capitalism or poverty; marriage or loneliness, and we miss the myriad of colours and shades in between.
A full life, is not black-and-white – it’s full colour!
Swap your fear for adventure
The human mind is incredible. One of the best perks, is that we can change it. Sometimes, even back to the way it was. Although ageing makes us more fragile, and parenting demands that we be more careful, they needn’t completely rob us from living & adventure.
So, how do we claim back our trade-offs?
An inventory is always a good start. Try asking yourself these four questions, to get to the bottom of some of your own trade-offs. As an example, we’ll apply these questions to the illustration of the fear-ridden parent:
Q 1. Why did I make the trade-off in the first place? What was the positive motivator?
I want to be a responsible parent – and my kids need me, so I can’t go around running after thrill-rides, and put them at risk of losing their dad.
Q 2. Did I pay too much for what I wanted to get? In what way(s)?
Yes – I am now fear-ridden, and I’ve actually noticed that my little boy is also constantly scared of the smallest things.
Q 3. Can I find a mid-way between what I wanted to have, and what the initial cost was?
Yes – I can expose him to reasonable risks & adventure, and in this way, give him the opportunity to learn, grow & enjoy the freedom of life.
Q 4. So, taking this into account, how will I practically claim back my trade-off, without sacrificing the positives I wanted to achieve, mentioned in question 1?
I am a responsible parent, if I acknowledge that life has risks, and if I empower my child to use his / her head when making decisions. It’s a fine line between being irresponsible, and being adventurous: If I don’t walk that line, they will never learn to. My kids need me for as long as I am alive, but – more than that – they need to learn how to live full, healthy lives, even if I’m not around: not fearful, timid ones. The best way to do this, is to model it…so, I suppose, taking them up with the cable cars, can give them a great life experience. It will also be a way to model “facing your fears” to them.
Were these questions helpful? Did you get stuck somewhere at answering them in your own life?
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