My New Friend
I am in Cape Town now, an exquisitely beautiful city at the tip of Africa. Yesterday we ventured out to a wildlife reserve. Aside from riding around in a partially open vehicle through areas with lions, elephants, Cape Town buffalo and rhino you could for an extra fee go spend time with the cheetahs.
I learned that cheetahs are capable of being domesticated and they were the cats of royalty. Yet, they are wild animals, with killing for survival built into their DNA. So on the one hand I was attracted to this experience and on the other hand, I realized that this animal in a nano second could do a great deal of harm. I calculated the risk and decided it was worth it. Why? My mind had decided that they just couldn’t be offering this experience if there were casualties strewn about, yet there would always be that chance of startling or touching in the wrong way, and paying a severe price.
I found it exhilarating to find my arm being licked by this incredible creature, a powerful cat capable of accelerating from zero to sixty miles and hour in three seconds. As the tongue, courser than any sand paper I have ever touched, worked its’ way up and down my arm and leg, I realized how vulnerable I was; but also how exciting it felt. It was the thrill of a new frontier, of extending my own personal boundary.
I felt like this experience is the metaphor constantly in front of us for reaching out of our comfort zones and trying something new. It doesn’t matter what it is. It is the idea that we just find that comfort edge and consciously go a little further.
There is the resistance in our minds, that voice that finds all of the rational reasons not to take a chance. Then there is the countervailing voice that says, “What if you do? How good will you feel for having tried something new.” Better yet, after such an experience, how did you feel? I must admit that as I rode home, I thought of how unusual this experience was, it was a first, and how empowering it made me feel. And perhaps that is why we are drawn to a little danger. If we face it and get through it, we feel stronger and more alive. I am not talking about recklessness such as riding in a speeding car with a drunk driver: I am talking about a reasonable return on one’s apprehension. It is related to the fear of embarrassment. The idea that we will look foolish if we fail. But as a friend of mine once said, “Be embarrassed once a week, for you will know you are truly alive.”
Is there something you’ve been wanting to do, but have felt resistance. Ask yourself how good you’ll feel if you do it , and you succeed. Maybe it is time to pet the Cheetah.