Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Brave the Fear

"It's really not so bad once you get up there, you know."

Caleb strained his neck to see the top of the towering structure. Just looking at it made his head spin.

"I don't think I ca-"
"Then don't think! I've done that for you." laughed his older brother, slapping his back. "This is just one of those things, bud, that you can't think about... until it's too late."

Caleb's head whipped around. "Too late for what?!"

"Ermm, to... uhhh..." Calvin struggled.

"To realize how much fun you're having." supplied their dad, stepping in and shooting his eldest boy a look that said "Just keep your mouth shut."

"It's OK, Caleb." offered his mother, putting a gentle hand on his shoulder. "Take your time and do it when you feel ready. There's always next year."

The little boy looked down at the ground, then back up at the giant structure. Massive neon letters blared red, green and blue all at once. And it always seemed to go the same way for him. Walk up, look down, walk down - rinse and repeat. Why do people feel the need to do something so dangerous? Strapping yourself into a rickety metal body and then shoot high and low through loops and falls... it just didn't seem sensible. Hell, didn't seem sane. Looking around, names like 'The Obliterator' and 'Killing Machine' didn't make it seem any more appealing.

A dad carrying his little boy on his shoulders waltzed through the entrance; the tiny youngster laughing the whole way through. That kid couldn't have been older than seven or eight! Damnit!


"I can't." he said, keeping his eyes on the ground.

Before Dad could stop him, Calvin crouched down and looked his little brother in the eye. "Look. It's ok to be afraid."

Caleb looked up. "You're not afraid."

The older teenager grinned. "Everyone's afraid, bud. But the only way to deal with it is face it."

"I'm not as brave as you are."

Calvin laughed and put his hand on the younger boy's shoulder. "You think so? Why?"

Keeping his eyes on his feet, he mumbled "Because you have more courage than I do."

A slight pause, as his older brother ran his hand through his hair. "What is courage, Caleb?"

"Not being afraid." he answered, eyes still on the ground.

"No." Calvin replied, shaking his head. "Courage is choosing to face the fear. Choosing to overcome it. It's the feeling. Being brave is just sticking with that feeling, going through with it - the actual act of facing fear wherever it might be."

Caleb lifted his head to look his brother in the eye.

Calvin continued: "Whether it's slaying a fire-breathing dragon..." He nodded his head at the entrance. "... or bunging it out on a roller coaster."

Caleb thought for a moment. "How do you know?"

Grinning, the teenager looked up at their dad. "'Cause a very wise man told me that when I was your age."

Two parents beamed down at their kids, and Caleb followed his brother's inspired look.

"Now." started Calvin, taking a breath and getting to his feet. "Whadyeh say?" He held out his hand. "Let's put 'scary' to the test."

Caleb smiled shyly, shoved his fists in his pockets and walked ahead of his brother. "Put that hand away, everyone'll think you're some scaredy-cat."

Calvin shot his eyes to the sky, but jogged after his brother and through the coaster's brightly-lit entrance.

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