Journey of an Introvert

For an extreme introvert (INTJ) content to be alone for days at a time, it took fifty-two years of avoidance for the author to ignite a yearlong battle with his greatest demon, the paralyzing fear of heights. A type-A control freak either competing with society or pushing it away, it was only when he’d reached his emotional bottom that he finally surrendered, pleading for help.

His rescuer? Teasing, whispering, and provoking him for years, fear, his mistress and muse, was waiting for him on a moonlit mountain road, desperate to rekindle their love affair. When he remembered that fear existed for him, a lifetime of frustration exploded into perfect clarity. Fear was more than a physical emotion. It had become a motivational idea. It was time to return to the beauty of internal competition and the audacity of setting impossible goals.

Falling back on a well-honed toolbox of strategy, intuition, and discipline, the plan was to spend fifty-two weeks at fifty-two years of age explicitly confronting fear in all its forms. Incrementally building up to the ultimate goal to skydive, he’d windsurf Maui’s north shore. He’d risk putting his motorcycle—and aging body—on a racetrack. Precarious cliffs snow skiing would become the norm. He’d even fly multiple aircraft, from gliders to military combat trainers.

Following his plan, journaling his week by week adventure, his notes quickly became an unfolding mystery: Could he actually jump out of an airplane by his fifty-third birthday? When the question changed to, “How had his life prepared him to ultimately face his biggest foe?”, his mystery became a memoir, splicing together fifty-two years of adventure with a fifty-two-week journey into fear.

At the end of the yearlong confrontation, it only took fifty-two seconds in free fall to arrive at an ironic and overwhelming paradox. Piece by piece, memory by memory, the intricate jigsaw puzzle of his life had become clear. At its core, this is a story of how he challenges life, but more important, himself.