In 1941, President Franklin D. Roosevelt offered us his four basic freedoms. The fourth being freedom from fear. It is fear which keeps us from experiencing life to the fullest. We withdraw into the places of safety that shut out the rest of the world.
We retreat from the things that threaten us. The intensity of fear, as it increases, draws us back further and further until we are known only to ourselves. Finally, we are not engaged at all. We are only surviving.
“All hopes for a better world rest in the fearlessness and openhearted vision of people who embrace life.” ~ John Lennon
Fear can be overcome in the presence of a passionate mission. With such a mission we reject the notion of survival and thrive despite fear. Passion is fueled by love which is the antithesis of fear. And passion is at the very heart of excitement. We can be so excited about the present moment with all of its possibilities that fear is pushed aside. We move through it and beyond it because our mission is more important than anything else.
Lou Gehrig and Jim Valvano are wonderful models of what it means to face certain death and ruthless pain with fearlessness. One had ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis) and the other had cancer. Both continued to thrive and overcome every day to the very end. Gehrig’s ‘Luckiest Man’ speech at Yankee Stadium, and his baseball clinics for kids being treated at Mayo in Rochester, Minnesota shine for us decades after his death. Jim Valvano’s ESPY speech inspires young and old alike. It serves to fund cancer research efforts through the V Foundation. He simply tells us; “Don’t give up. Don’t ever give up.” These are words to guide us. They are examples of great passion. They direct us to live it well and to live it without succumbing to fear.