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It’s not how, but when.  We all know how. You’ve known the “how” for a long time.  The real question is when?  When do you intend to overcome the fear that holds you back? By the time you reach the end, I hope you will ask yourself that question with fresh insight.

I just finished reading an amazing story called The Last Photograph by Stephen Bransford.  It is the story of Cain and Able, Rich Man Poor Man and the prodigal son.  Stephen and his older brother Gordon were raised by a father who was also a minister. The two were opposites in personality; like oil and water. One the rough and tumble strong kid and the younger the sensitive kid who was always fighting his fears.

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Their sibling rivalries slowly fester from an early age until one day the older brother Gordon, fresh out of Army boot camp, takes his younger brother up to the edge of a cliff along the Columbia river.  Declaring that he will fear nothing, the older brother defies death as leaps head first from the cliff then taunts his younger brother, tears running down his cheeks, to do the same.  Overcome with fear and panic, Stephen refuses.

Some years later, after two tours behind enemy lines in Vietnam, the older brother Gordon is the one traveling down the wrong path towards destruction. He is bitter and angry. And now his successful younger brother Stephen takes on the role of challenger. He takes the bold step of challenging his brothers own version of fear.

“Remember the lesson you gave me on the cliff a few miles up the river from here, when you did the swan dive? Remember how you told me you wouldn’t let fear keep you from doing anything you decided to do?”

“Look around you. Is this your swan dive? Is this what you decided to do with your life?”

His eyes narrowed at me in a way that told me I had just skated onto very thin ice. He mashed out the new cigarette on a cowboy boot.

Feeling the whole conversation teetering dangerously like a vial of TNT, I plunged ahead, hopping for the best. “Is this the place you want to raise your kids? Are you living the kind of example you want them to follow?”

At this he seemed to freeze inside and out.

“What is your dream Gordon, What is the legacy you want to leave your children? How do you want to be remembered? This can’t be it.”

He cleared his throat and squirmed as if deciding whether or not to belt me out the door. Then he Straightened his gaze at me. “You hit it on the head, brother, This ain’t it.”

Gordon faced the fear that had kept him from his dream of running his own hunting outfit in the Bitterroot Wilderness of Idaho. You will have to read the rest to find out how it turns out. It is a fascinating story of the growth of two very different brothers. Both growing up in a home with a strong-willed father. How they reconcile not only their sibling rivalries, built up over a life time, but also their personal challenges as they seek to attempt to master the things they fear. I highly recommend it, not only as a well told and interesting story, but for the personal insight into your own fears you will confront.

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