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Almost Fearless

the future is not a gift

“O wonder! How many goodly creatures are there here! How beauteous mankind is! O brave new world, that has such people in’t!” – William Shakespeare

It’s good to be almost fearless.

Many of the things that used to really frighten me don’t bother me at all anymore.

Most of us have been brought up, very sensibly, to worry a lot. Here are some of the issues that we like to have a good worry about:

  • Career progression
  • Earning as much money as our friends
  • Getting a decent Christmas bonus (a mixture of the two points above)
  • What people think about us
  • Wearing stylish clothes

In recent years I have not worried about any of these. (Those who know me will say I never paid much heed to the last one!). And the funny thing is that the less I care, the more I just concentrate on following my own path, doing what I care about and am passionate about, the more money I earn and the curve of my “career” progression steepens.

I’mm aware that my “career” is an odd one, hence the quote marks. But the point is that by consciously choosing not to worry about all the things I was supposed to be worrying about, a lot of them simply slipped away. They didn’t really matter to me.

I spent years owning just two sets of clothes and one pair of shoes. I didn’t have a phone or a laptop or a car or a job or a house or a TV. I didn’t have all of the things that I was supposed to have. Instead I had freedom and independence. It was all about life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, as a wise man once said.

My life is a bit more settled now, and I’mm happy for it to be. I now own four pairs of trousers (jeans, tracksuit, trekking, suit). But the key premise remains the same: to spend my days doing what I care about, not what other people think I should care about. And if you are willing to do that well, and work very hard at it, then you can forge a niche and a living from it, regardless of what it is you have chosen to pursue.

However I called this post “Almost Fearless” not “Fearless”. Where’s the catch?

The catch is a big one. It’s a Faustian pact and Pandora’s box rolled into one. My choice of path means that I am lucky not to share many of the anxieties and fears of my friends. But I worry about different things.

My travels in the last few years have made me worry about how short life is and how much there is still to do. I don’t count down days until the weekend. I count down years until The End. I am so stupidly enchanted by the world and all that’s in it. There are so many places still to go, so many things to do, so many people to meet. And that is what scares me, scares the hell out of me. The pressure I put on myself to fill the unforgiving minute with sixty seconds’ worth of distance run is pretty big.

I’mll finish with the words of another wise man, “Don’t worry about the future; or worry, but know that worrying is as effective as trying to solve an algebra equation by chewing bubblegum.”

Don’t worry about your life. Live your life. But don’t be fearless. Be almost fearless.

This post originally appeared on the Almost Fearless blog.

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  1. We worry about stuff that’s not happening rather than savoring the now that is happening. Fear is once in a while that urgent voice that enables a self-rescue at the last instant to prevent too-soon termination of our too-brief lifespans, and in that instant, almost fearless seems like a good idea.

  2. Baba Blacksheep Posted

    I have both the worries of how i’m not actually living(Life,liberty and the pursuit of happiness) and the worries about the education,job,money,what society thinks in my head right now.Only way to run away from it all is to do a 100 pushups(right now!!).


  3. Ah jeesh Al, you just coined in one post, my entire weeks worth of ponderings and the subject of my first backpacking/philosophising video piece. Nice work.

  4. Perfectly said,I’ll need to print it out as inspiration! I completely agree with your insight on how short life is. Recently turning fifty I too often ponder all the places in the world I would love to visit and revisit.

  5. My career is my vocation…
    I don’t work for a wage…
    …hence no Christmas bonus…
    I don’t wear stylish clothes (but I do have too many)…
    I kind of care what people think – I try and write witty or interesting things in the hopes that someone responds, and I spend more time writing about what I want to do than doing it – so I’ll stop now and go for a ride (after work)…

  6. Graeme Posted

    Being ‘Almost Fearless’ is not something that most of us have naturally. And this is probably a good thing. Anyone with an interest in the outdoors probably knows a few ‘fearless’ leap-before-you-think types and it doesn’t always end well. Being somewhat fearless takes practice is confronting each fear and pushing through it. The secret is to listen to them and deal with them, not to ignore or to use them as excuses. Being ‘Almost Fearless’ is therefore something to aspire to, not something to pretend to be at the start. I think you cycling books, Al, make that point very clearly and honestly.

  7. I am a perpetual ‘dreamer’.

    I love the romantic thought of exploration and the pursuit of new experience, however my dream normally crashes into the reality of finance. Balance is something i struggle with and i will always struggle with i fear. Well almost fear 🙂

    If i could pursue the life i’d like without leaning on others i’d do it in a shot. Suggestions welcome!



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