Aha! you've noticed I changed my Blog slightly.....you like, yes? No? suit yourself - I like it.
I've often wondered what it would have been like to live in one of the many centuries gone by. I think I would have especially like to live when the world was being discovered by brave men on long sea voyages. I could see myself embarking on a voyage to discover a new world - well, I say I could if it wasn't for the fact that I'm not very good in boats. It's not the fact that I get seasick (although I do, but can deal with it) but I always seem to worry about falling overboard and drowning.
On my recent Scotland Holiday, my friends and I (they're my friends - I like them, they can't stand me) went on a boat trip to the Isle of Rhum - for details, check out my blog of 13th May 2011. It was a fairly rough crossing, and while my friend Jim unfortunately fought the urge to vomit over the side due to seasickness, I was fighting the urge not to poo myself in sheer terror. As the boat pitched and rolled in the rough seas, it felt to me at times that we might capsize, and all be thrown into the sea. Knowing that I'm not a strong swimmer, I felt that in the event of such things happening, I could quite possibly drown - and I didn't like it.
And this is my problem - my perception of what might happen invokes my fear reflex, which in turn spoils my enjoyment of things, and in certain ways life. The people driving that boat from the Mainland to the island of Rhum do it at least twice a day, almost every day - and have been doing so for a long time. They would know if the seas were too rough to cross, and they would know the limits of their boat. There are safety procedures in place, and equipment available - so I should have thought about those things, and not have been so scared. And I was scared at times. I'm 40 years old, and I was scared. I'm not saying that I should have sat on that boat and not been mindful of the fact that I could get tipped out, just that I should not worry so much.
I do worry too much. I have never had a fight, apart from when I was a kid. As a rule, I don't stand up for myself - Although I came very close a few weekends ago to actually punching someone. I was leaving the pub (after having one drink) when I passed a former work colleague. he said goodnight, and I did the same - but then when my back was turned, he insulted me - but loudly enough for me to hear. Instantly I was enraged and would have gone into the pub to have it out with this idiot but I was with friends, and I am friendly with the people that own the pub. If I see that guy in the street however, I will be having words.
I was bullied at school, Secondary school mind you - at an age when I was over six foot tall, and taller than any other kid in my school. There is no way I should have let myself be bullied - but the fear of being hit, and the pain it would cause overruled every other instinct. I have never been punched in the face, but I have seen other people get punched and seem okay (as much as you can do when you have just been punched), and have been wrestling in my mind with my fear of being hit, and trying to rationalise just how bad it could be. I thought about it long and hard - so much so that I briefly considered asking my best mate Ben to punch me in the face one time, just so I can see what it is like. How ridiculous is that? Although I know Ben would be only too happy to oblige - well he is my best mate. For a split second, I thought about asking my mate Jim to punch me - but then I remembered how bloody massive his arms are, and thought that it probably wouldn't end well.
I'm also scared of heights - but was embarrassed and ashamed in Scotland when I told my friends I couldn't go any higher when we were on a relatively easy walk. I could have gone higher - and I did, but again I let my fear control me. I was in the most beautiful scenery, with a group of people who mean such a great deal to me, and it was overshadowed by my thinking that every next step would see me slip off the edge, and fall to my death.
Sometimes I think that my fear, and my fear of dying stops me living.
I know that fear is a good thing, and that we all need fear in certain ways. But I know that I am too fearful. I am going to try from now on to take control of my fear - I'm not promising I won't have a fear of heights, or if I get thrown overboard I'll just smile and shout "leave me, I'm fine - you go and enjoy yourselves and I'll catch you on the way back!" - but I will try not to worry too much. I'm certainly not going to go looking for trouble, but I will stand up for myself. And if I get a slap, I get a slap - cuts heal, broken bones mend, blood clots.
I promised myself that I would do more in the next forty years of my life than I did in the previous. I'm off to a good start, but need to make sure that I don't stop myself experiencing life because of my fears or worries.
Anyway, must go - there's a queue of friendly neighbours at my door. They're very kindly offering to show me what it is like to be punched in the face.
Aren't people nice?