Chattanooga Now Naturalist's Note: The Fear Paradox

Chattanooga Now Naturalist's Note: The Fear Paradox

April 2nd, 2018 by Sunny Montgomery in Get Out - Bestmonth

The events in my life that have been the most fulfilling have also been the most terrifying.

There was that time I moved to Chattanooga having never even visited. And that time I signed up for a 10k trail race having never run more than a mile. This past year, as I have begun to explore whitewater, I have been inundated with alternate waves of fear and purpose, cresting around every bend.

I won't forget my first descent of the Ocoee. I was giddy with fear as the swift current drew me into churning pools, over ledges and toward a sharp turn in the river, beyond which I could only hear the thunderous rapids. My much more experienced friend must have recognized my look of dread.

"Enjoy it," he told me. "You only get to go around that unknown river bend once."

What makes fear so special, I think, is that it feeds our inherent need for uncharted discovery. The paradox is that so often, we let it block the path that leads to the most beautiful places.

In this week's newsletter, we highlight several stories about those who overcame a challenge, bringing them a step closer to life's full potential — from survival school, to mountain races, to trading comfort and convenience for 2,200 miles of trail.

Adventure, after all, is nothing without a bit of adversity. But beyond each scary swell, I have found deep pools of serenity.

"Square up on that rapid," my friend told me that day on the Ocoee. "Just paddle with everything you got."

Sunny Montgomery

Sunny Montgomery

Photo by Contributed Photo /Times Free Press.

Sunny Montgomery

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