What Scares You Most in Life?

Posted on December 04, 2013 by Jesse Schiller | 0 comments

We’ve recently arrived on Norfolk Island, the origin of KOOSHOO and birthplace of 2/3 of our team. It’s a very small (3 by 5 mile) island in the middle of the South Pacific. Tintoela, the home that Rachel’s father built (and is now a 4.5 Star accommodation) will be our home for the next 2 months. Last time I was here I married the love of my life. Got to say: it feels good to be back!

There will be many a blog post to come about this beautiful, special Island but today I wanted to share a post with you that I wrote a few months ago while on a same-same but different paradise island, that time in the Mediterranean. The island is called Kythera and Rach and I were there for a kundalini yoga teacher training with our dear friend Gloria, owner of Semperviva Yoga in Vancouver.

Please enjoy the story...


We’re on a magical little Island called Kythira in the Mediterranean. It’s the type of place that makes you know there is a God. So idyllic and absolutely perfect, it’s virtually impossible to believe that this is simply a matter of coincidence as opposed to some type of divine playground gift from something greater.

The reason we’re here is to do a kundalini yoga teacher training with our mentor and good friend Gloria Latham, owner of  Semperviva Yoga in Vancouver (and KOOSHOO studio partner) and multi-generational Kytherian (I just made that word up to blanket term people of Kythera – hope it’s close).

Our teacher training home on Kythira

We’re staying in a village called Avlemonas. It’s a picture perfect Greek village of white stone villas with their iconic blue shutters, exactly as you’ve seen pictured on postcards and in TV shows, except more vivid.

What makes it especially beautiful is that Avlemonas wraps gently around a magnificent harbour. The harbour includes one of those beaches that looks like they were crafted by a team of Disney engineers, so perfect that it’s almost comical. And that harbour is the reason for which I’m writing this story tonight.

It’s the perfect swimming harbour. Beginning either with a gradual sandy beach or a more emphatic 10 foot cliff dive into the waters, the harbour gently let’s out towards the open Med beyond. At roughly 500 meters long and 500 meters wide at its mouth, it’s essentially the perfect lap pool for a comfortable swimmer.

The perfect swimming harbour, crossing from top right to far left

As it happens, one of my greatest passions in life is swimming. For me, it is a moving meditation. It’s that rare self-time where rythym and breath take over and the mind, finally, falls quiet. As soon as I laid eyes on the beautiful harbour that our guest-room overlooks, I knew I’d be swimming myself into shape whilst here on this brief visit.

When I swim I have a tendency of setting goals for myself. They usually involve a marker of some sort – a buoy, rock outcropping, or certain number of meters – and necessitate me swimming to that marker before concluding that my swim has been a success. Failure to get to the marker is exactly that: a failure. It’s a harsh set of rules but that’s simply the terms on which my mind tends to operate.

For the past mornings here on Kythira, I’ve been rising early and starting my day with the then-still-quiet harbour. At that hour, though the sky is light, the sun has not yet crested over the neighbouring mountain so the harbour rests in an idyllic, semi-dark calm. No swimmers. No movement.

For my swims I’ve been setting increasingly ambitious goals with each day. This morning involved swimming to the rocky point on my right, crossing 300 meters of harbour and returning along the left seashore - a rough triangle. The shorelines of the triangle pose no challenge; rather the challenge of this swim and the whole point of this post, is the 300 meters of open water that divides the land. It is in that open water that my mind goes to town.

Like many 80’s children, when I was young I made a grave error for which I’ve never fully recovered: I watched Jaws. It had a profound effect on my life, leaving me with both a deep-seeded fear and adoration for sharks. Despite the now-obvious animatronics of the movie’s sharks, I’ve never entered a deep body of water – freshwater or salt – without being conscious that I was now a floating piece of easy-meat should any carnivorous animal be in the mood.

It dawned on me this morning as I crossed the mouth of the channel, breathing rapidly as I scanned the dark sea floor 60 feet beneath me for any signs of movement that this experience is not unlike running a business. For me, getting across that channel, just as in growing a business from scratch (or overcoming any fear in life) is all about the balance between hard work (read: commitment) and faith.

You could swim your heart out into the deep blue of the ocean but without that faith in your safety and strength eventually your mind will wander and your body tire. Likewise, you could believe with all your heart that you are protected in your journey but without the commitment and hard work, no amount of believing will see you to the other side.

Combine the two and suddenly even the most daunting of tasks – those which scare you most in life – begin to feel possible.

Not saying that crossing the mouth of this harbour is going to happen, but with each stroke further from the comforts of the shoreline, I feel stronger and more certain in my ability to do whatever it is I’d like in the world, including building a business that my future kids can be proud of.

What scares you most in life? And what do you rely on for overcoming that fear?

Please share.

I know that we personally draw a tremendous amount of faith from the support of others, so would love to help you along in overcoming your fears in any way we can. 

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