Weekly Poll

Do you think crowdfunding can work in Powell?



July 10, 2012 8:22 am

CULTURE SHOCK: The only thing to fear is fear itself

Written by Dante Geoffrey

Finding courage in my new environment

I thought it was a bit soon for me to revisit subjects I’ve already written about, but if they can reboot the Spiderman movie franchise just 10 years after the original, I can write a follow up after only three columns.

My second piece, “A call of the wild,” (published June 12) expressed my desire to take full advantage of my wild new surroundings.



I have broken an incalculable amount of promises to myself during my life, but so far, I have made good on my proclamation to explore Wyoming.

(Learning Italian, curtailing my beer intake and getting those washboard abs will have to wait.)

In the past three weeks, I have hiked in Bighorn National Forest, fished in the Beartooth Mountains and scared myself silly in Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area.

I suppose I should have used quotation marks around “fished” since I put more into the Twin Lakes than I took out of them (I still owe you three lures, Kevin).

So I’m not much of an angler. Oh well. I consider myself much more of a nature observer, anyway.

Just ask the moose I saw in Bighorn National Forest. I observed the hell out of it! I even did some pretty hardcore appreciating for good measure.

Fast-forward to the Fourth of July. For some, a day of barbecues and self-inflicted blast injuries; for me, a day of relaxation in the outdoors.

Not being much for explosions, I joined a few friends on a short trip to Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area — a place with few people in its waters and too many words in its name.

We were settled on some rocks by the water for less than 15 minutes when my friend — the only experienced adventurer in the group — climbed to the top of the highest cliff (about 35 feet) on the shore we were on. He invited me up, assured me what he was about to do was safe, and then proceeded to prove it.

He took a four or five-step running start, launched himself off of the edge and then disappeared briefly into the water. Looked easy, fun and manly.

Now it was my turn. I struggled to collect my wits — and my soul.

I walked upon high and I stepped to the edge to see the water below. Then I tried to laugh at myself as the fears rolled down, and I walked back to the shore and a no-longer-cold beer.

Not a strong moment for me.

But not long after I was again coaxed back up the rocks, this time to a much lower ledge. Even on this bunny slope of cliffs I was hesitant, but I finally jumped. The muted cheers that followed were based mainly in pity — as if I was a little leaguer whose fear lucked him into a walk.

A couple minutes later I advanced to the next level of fear — a tiny rock shelf that stuck out just six or so feet higher than the first from which I jumped.

I managed to separate my feet from the rock without too much embarrassment. I hit the water cleanly and swam to shore content with the idea of spending the rest of my day soaking up sun while standing waste deep in the lake and holding an Alaskan Amber.

But of course, that wasn’t to be.

Before I knew it, I was swimming to the cliffs on the other side of the narrow lake channel, climbing up the rock face, bumping my head and tearing up my feet.

The goal of this trek was to reach the “diving board,” a rock formation that was approximately 40 feet high and jutted out about 8 feet over the lake.

Just like before, my friend wasted no time in showing me how it was done.

And just like before, I was left standing on top of a rock with my anxiety and ego battling it out.

It was either jump off the cliff and probably hurt myself (not because it’s too high or dangerous, but because I can manage to hurt myself doing almost anything), or shamefully walk to a lower cliff where my anti-climactic jump would be followed by a swim twice as long as from the diving board.

Well, I’m better at falling than I am at swimming, so the high cliff it was.

After the standard count of 1-2-3…36-37-38, I forced my body off the rock (thinking that might be the last time I ever feel solid ground) and plunged toward the surface of the lake. My only instructions were to hit the water feet-first with my legs straight.

I got it half right.

My feet hit the water first, quickly followed by the backs of my thighs.

I must have blacked out for the first three-fourths of the jump because before I knew it the water was rushing up to meet me while I was striking a sitting-in-a-chair pose.

The editors at the Tribune probably wouldn’t publish the photos I took of the disgusting bruises on my legs, but if you saw them you’d know that when I struck the water it made a sound louder and more violent than a John Bonham snare hit.

The words out of my mouth as I re-emerged from the water were even louder and more violent.

But I wasn’t paralyzed, and I wasn’t ashamed. With a little courage and a lot of help from my friends I accomplished something far out of my comfort zone.

The “diving right in” to a new life metaphor is a little hack, but, well, it’s too late to go back now. What else did you think all of this day-trip exposition was leading up to?

I have always thought I didn’t have as much fun living in California as I should have had. I was too afraid. Afraid of the people, of not fitting in, of other people thinking of myself as I often thought of myself.

It wasn’t California’s fault, it was mine. But I can’t ignore the fact that I don’t feel that way anymore (at least not to the same degree) now that I’ve moved.

Maybe it’s the change of scenery. Maybe it’s just that I’m more mature. Either way, the culmination of the change happened in Powell.

My friends back in California often ask me how I’m adapting to life in Wyoming. More specifically, they want to know if I have any regrets.

Not one, I would tell them. Until now.

I genuinely regret not filming my jump. Not because a record of my feat would provide myself with a valuable sense of pride and humility, but because it would really scare the hell out of my mom.

Maybe I haven’t matured that much after all.

Leave a comment

*The Powell Tribune reserves the right to remove inappropriate comments.