Here I am, nine meters up in the air, facing a “flying” snowboard hanging between two trees on two ropes. My two boys have already boarded from tree to tree like pros right in front of me. Welcome to the Hohe Düne climbing forest. While I’m still figuring out the best way to jump onto the board to cross the approximately 10-meter gap between the trees, I momentarily forget the height. That helps, because fear is not a good companion in such a situation. I remember listening to an interview with Nelson Mandela many years ago in the lobby of a Disney hotel in Orlando, Florida. He probably didn’t say the following sentence in Orlando, but somewhere else. However, Nelson Mandela’s words come to mind right now: “Courage is not the absence of fear, but its triumph.”

Nelson Mandela means that true bravery is acting despite fear and facing it, rather than being completely fearless. How about you? Do you constantly confront your fear, or do you just push it away? Always hoping that it will disappear someday. Some people do this very cleverly at first glance by emptying a bottle or two of alcohol every evening. Sure, it slows down the images in their heads, making the fear feel less intense. But it doesn’t go away. Fear, like grief, waits for you. Want to distract yourself with work? Fear waits for you until you finish work. Want to distract yourself with alcohol? Fear waits for you until you’re sober again. So why not look fear in the eyes and just tackle it? Just like here in the climbing park. I can tremble, complain, and curse up there, cry or tell myself how stupid I was to come up here. But that still doesn’t get me back to the ground. It only makes my current situation more tense. Therefore, I simply focus on the next step and temporarily block out the height. It’s fascinating how easily my brain handles fear when the snowboard is on the ground. But as soon as the good piece is hanging nine meters up, panic sets in. I am secured, though. It’s similar to being on the ground. Sometimes life feels like a high ropes course. My tip: Take one step at a time and focus on what is right in front of you. Forget the possible fall height or what could happen. Because you can also break your neck on the ground if you trip over a root.

But where I am now, there is no root. I am still hanging nine meters up between two trees. “Courage is not the absence of fear, but its triumph.” So, I bravely jump towards the middle of the snowboard and almost glide like on wings from tree to tree. And on the other side, I realize once again that all the excitement was only in my head and the ride itself was fantastically great. Why did I need the fear beforehand that wanted to ruin everything? No, I didn’t need it. But I acknowledged that it was there and dealt with it. By taking the next step in the right direction. Further and further forward.