No Bags, Only Fear

Dec 28th, 2014.

I’m taking a plane to Nicaragua today.

This is not a vacation. I mean, I’ll chill, but that’s beside the point and a bit unavoidable when you’re in close beach proximity. This is a two-month experiment in fear.

The last time I entered the US – passport says it was Jan 11th, 2013 – I came back to finish school and figure out what my next move was. Two months and many coffees after my graduation I moved to New York.

I went there because the city scared me. There were also the parks, the music, not having a car, $1 pizza slices, all of that – but there was mostly fear. I was terrified and I had no idea why, so I went there to find out.

In the following months it became apparent to me that failure was the thing I dreaded the most. I’d love to say this miraculous realization came in a quiet moment of Buddha-like enlightenment, but it was the natural consequence of a stream of events that will go straight into the bloopers of my life.

In little over a year I had to quit a job, got fired from two other, lost major projects, had award-winning dating disasters, lost money in the most stupid ways –the list goes long.

It was a great success at failure, and also a great opportunity: fear had been granted a permanent resident status in my head so I got a chance to study it. The geek in me set out to learn it, and learn it well.

We started hanging out, spending more and more time together, until we eventually became good friends. I mean, we were basically living together and you’ve probably heard how hard it is to find a place in NY, so we had to make it work.

My friend Juan has many world-class qualities that make him one of the best persons to have around. He provides never-ending support and company for any plan regardless if its absurdity, sense of humor beyond belief and a photographic memory that challenges most hard drives in the market today. Unfortunately, he also comes with flawless aim to nail inappropriate comments in equally inappropriate settings, along with an outstanding ability to disclose most kinds of sensitive information that are entrusted to him.

Among the many times I’ve experienced this first hand, there’s that party in high school where he made the most tasteless joke to my then girlfriend about her having sex with me for the first time, just minutes before I discovered that she didn’t have a very developed sense of tolerance, or humor, or forgiveness. (Juan also provided unending support and advice after the breakup that followed a few months after).

After my NY initiation, I’ve discovered that fear is a bit like Juan. It’ll make you go through extremely uncomfortable situations, but in the end you’re grateful for those because they make you realize things you probably should know about and had no clue were there.

I can’t change Juan even if I tried, but it’s not like I’ve ever wanted to. I’m just happy to have him around.

I’ve followed the fear most of my life, but it always seemed to be the enemy. The thing to conquer. The block. The stutter. The “if only” that would never go away. Turns out, the dude is a pretty good friend if you let him in.

I’m not gonna pretend I’ve mastered this – I still resent him from time to time. I still avoid some of his calls, or tell him that I didn’t get his text even though it’s 2014 and we all know that shit never happens. But I’m failing better.

I’m writing this on a plane to Miami, to have some croquetas while I wait for my flight to Nicaragua. I’m going into a two-month exploration to deepen my understanding of mobile work, living with the least amount of things possible and facing uncertainly in a level that is way beyond my grasp.

In preparing for this, I sold most of the things I owned and gave away most of the rest. I have a carry-on with less than 20 items and plans for only 2 days. And I love it. I know it because my newfound friend is waiting for me at the airport to show me all the things I don’t know yet, and I’m really excited to see him.

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