Caged in a Body

Joanna - Hoffman Estates
Entered on May 11, 2009
Age Group: 18 - 30
  • Listen to This I Believe on RadioPublic

  • Podcasts

    Sign up for our free, weekly podcast of featured essays. You can download recent episodes individually, or subscribe to automatically receive each podcast. Learn more.

  • FAQ

    Frequently asked questions about the This I Believe project, educational opportunities and more...

  • Top Essays USB Drive

    This USB drive contains 100 of the top This I Believe audio broadcasts of the last ten years, plus some favorites from Edward R. Murrow's radio series of the 1950s. It's perfect for personal or classroom use! Click here to learn more.

I remember resting at the edge of a cliff that was about a hundred feet tall, give or take. I was slightly annoyed, seeing as I had been volunteered by Mr. Matarazzo to be the first to rappel, yet I’m not one to be bothered by such things for long. I probably would have gone first anyway.

Feet firmly planted shoulder width apart, I eased myself over the edge, concentrating on the task at hand, yet distracted by the emotions I ought to have felt, yet didn’t: fear, anxiety, the weight of the impeding danger of the task. Matz instructed me calmly, yet, though I hadn’t repelled for several months, I felt that I didn’t really need his help. I did feel a slight relief upon hitting the ground, but it was relief filled with excitement rather than relief in escaping an unexplainable fear, which is what everyone else seemed to feel as they descended down the rock face.

I never really understood it, fear. For me, it always seems to come at the most irrational of time; not when I’m poised at the edge of a possible death but, for example, when my name gets called in class and I have to go up and say my speech. I never really quite got how fear was supposed to work when it came into play.

For me, there is never much excitement in an activity without the tiniest bit of danger in it. In my Outdoor Adventure gym class, we do a variety of rock climbing etc., activities, among which is the flying squirrel, which my teacher has been trying to adjust so that the participants don’t hit the ceiling on their ways up. I did and I have to say that the feeling of it and the reactions of everyone else were enough to get my heart racing. The activity was then adjusted (my teacher made sure the people on the other end of the rope didn’t pull as hard) and I went again. I had only one word when I came back down: lame.

Franklin Delano Roosevelt told the American people, in the face of war, that they had nothing to fear but fear itself. Going off of that, author Kurt Vonnegut made the assumption that the free mind feels no fear, for it realized that there is, in fact, nothing to be feared. I believe that to fear is to lose oneself in what can’t be done rather than the thrill of what can be accomplished. For, looking at the big picture, people only fear two things—death and failure—proving that fear is an irrational emotion. Almost all belief systems believe in resurrection, in a better life after death. Failure is a part of life, leading to the adjustment of life’s course, to intellectual improvement. I believe that, in order for life to be lived to the fullest extent, we must free, as Kurt Vonnegut would say, our minds from the prisons of our bodies.