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Profiles In Courage


TennesseeCarl

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What experiences in your life have forced you to have courage? I'm not talking about bravery - that's a different thing altogether. For example, I'm very comfortable handling snakes - it takes no courage for me to do that, but for others, it could be the most courageous act of their lives.

Last night I went to audition for a role in a musical with the local theatre guild. I know my limits generally and I was trying out for a speaking role, not a singing one. But the rules of the audition were that you had to get up in front of perhaps 70 people -- some of whom have professional-quality voices - and sing.

For me, this is a nightmarish scenario (sort of like the dream where you find yourself naked in front of a crowd). I explained I didn't want a singing role, but they said, 'Get up there'.

I can speak to huge crowds and it doesn't bother me. I've done it...but the thought of singing like that weakenes my knees and set off a panic. But I remembered the old axiom, 'Feel the fear and do it anyway'. And I did. I was lousy, but I did it.

I'm curious, what situations have you experienced that forced you to 'feel the fear and do it anyway'?

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To really scare yourself silly, go listen to me audition a couple of songs. Ouch! :silly:

Its funny. I'n not a bad public speaker, but I hate it and get horrific stage fright from it. But something like singing I'm fine with even though I'm godawful. Something to do with being nervous I might make a bad impression with my speech, but at the singing, I know going in that I suck.:laugh: :laugh:

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While not unimportant to us, these "profiles" are rather trivial in the world at large. After all, the motive to perform (even unwillingly) are based upon selfish interests.

An example of someone I have an immense amount of respect for is someone who gives up an organ, e.g. a kidney, to be transplanted into someone else. The courage it takes to do that - to expose yourself to surgical risk and later in life to the risk of disease from a lack of a kidney - is truly awe inspiring.

Has anyone here done this, or been close to someone who has?

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I have pretty bad fear of heights. It could be more the fear of falling. Maybe both. It wasn’t like that when I was a kid, and I don’t know what happened to change me. I’m ok on a roof, but not near the edge or on the ladder.

I was a firefighter for 13 years, and when joining I had the choice of an Engine company or Ladder company. Of course I joined the Engine company for a few reasons, but the height thing was a big part. Man did I get a rude awakening . It’s one thing when your drilling under very controlled conditions, but the real deal is all together different. In 13 years I wound up on roofs or ladders many times. Each time it took everything I had. Two of the instances were about as close to a nightmare as It could be for me.

In the mid 80’s, hurricane Gloria hit the north east, and we got called out late in the day to tarp a roof that a tree fell through. The only place we could ladder the house was on the highest place possible, and the wind and rain didn’t help matters. We had to raise a 50 ft banglor extension ladder, and it just made it to the roof edge. We were also shorthanded, and next thing I know the captain is pointing to me and a 70lb tarp on the ground. The climb seemed like it took an hour, and when getting to the top I realized I was being swarmed by bee’s. The tree that broke had a huge bee hive in it. Did I mention I’m elegiac to bee stings :doh: So now I’m at the edge of the roof pulling up every Co2 extinguisher we could muster to freeze the little mothers while others worked on tarping the roof. We got it done, and before I knew it I was the last guy on the roof with no spotter for help getting on the ladder. The hardest part for me has always been climbing onto a ladder from a roof, and If I didn’t go when I did they would have sent a man up, but I would have been a laughing stock. I couldn’t even light a smoke when I got down my hands were shaking so bad.

The second time was in my last year with the dept. I was a chauffeur officer at the time. While I was trained in fire ground operations, my main duties were to train people to use firefighting equipment, and train engineers. One afternoon, we got called in on a working structure fire the next town over. I was the only officer around so we rolled. It wasn’t the first time I was in charge of a crew, and my chief was also in rout which was SOP. When we got to the seen, there was only second lieutenant in charge so my chief took command. He told me to have my crew ladder the building, and vent the roof. My crew at that point was myself and two others. I had the six others on hose lines already. I started to get real uptight being I had to lead the way. Two thirds the way up, I realize there’s nobody behind me :doh: Tom, the second guy up who’s carrying the K-12 saw has freaked out and frozen on the ladder. SOB had me trapped on the ladder with him. I damn near sh!t myself. I had to climb down to him to get the saw, and then finish the climb to the roof while Chris, the third guy talked Tom down. My heart was pounding so hard, and I was breathing so heavy I used a thirty minute air pack in about 12, which was all it took to cut a vent and bail out.

My wife can tell ya. She laughed her but off when I went up on the roof of our house in CT, got about six feet from the edge, turned and went back up to the ridge. I smoked two cigs, climbed down and put the ladder away, and called a dude to come clean my gutters for me. I have to deal with this in every day life on a regular basis, but those two instances are my worst cases of having to face my fear of ladders and heights. Thank God I’m only 5ft 9.

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