Monday, May 3, 2010

Nothing to fear, but fear itself!


Many years ago, on a nature hike with a youth group, a few of the kids ventured into some cave like crevices along the trail. Now, I was not a very adventurous individual by any stretch of the imagination. In fact, my most memorable feat of bravery, to that point, was probably when I drank an entire bowl of French dressing. It was a little...spicy.

Anyways, on that hike, I decided to follow the others into the bowels of the earth (bowels may be an overstatement, but it’s a cool word). To this day, I really have no idea what caused me to do such a thing, because unlike when I braved a rollercoaster for the first time, there was no girl to try and impress.

As we crawled through the little tunnels, I was nervous, but once were in, so I just kept pressing forward…slowly. After some time, “slowly” changed to “very slowly” and “very slowly” eventually became, “stopped”. Yep. Stopped. Completely. The tunnel had closed in and my arms had become pinned.

I can’t fully recall what the first thought that passed through my mind was, but it was either, “What a great opportunity to build character”, or “I’M GOING TO DIE!”

Probably the latter.

It was terrifying. I went into an absolute panic and was convinced I was not getting out. However, I must have somehow wriggled free, because…well…I’m no longer there.

For the years that followed, I may have been physically free, but my biggest fear had well been established and was holding me captive. The very thought of having my movement restricted in a confined space would start my heart racing and send shivers up my spine. So, for that reason, I avoided tight spaces and simply tried not to think about it.

But in January, when putting together my Dare2Dream list (see here), I either experienced some sort of brain cramp or an unusually rare moment of courage, because number #8 on that list of personal dreams was to “attack my biggest fear”.

How would I do it? Go back to that crevice? Crawl through an air duct? Bury myself in the backyard? They were all good options, but none of them was the "Timmy Way”.

You see, being the showman that I am, I immediately began trying to figure out how to accomplish this insane idea…in front of an audience! And, it didn’t take long before I contacted my brother-in-law (a very talented wood worker) and began brainstorming what has simply become known as “The Box”. I was measured and assured that “The Box” that Dan would construct would sufficiently test my level of claustrophobia.

A week or so later, I began promoting the Seriously Funny! show at which I would not only perform my stand-up comedy routine, speak about my Dare2Dream journey but get into “The Box” live on stage.

Saturday, May 1, 2010.

It was early afternoon and I was at Scarborough Baptist Church preparing for that evenings big show, when the cell phone rang. My sister and her husband were outside the building…with “The Box”. I ran outside to greet them and see, for the first time, Dan’s creation. It was very rustic, a lot smaller than I thought it would be and looked exactly like…a coffin. An old wood coffin. When we pulled it from the car, I felt excited…and a little queasy. It didn’t help that their car has a hearse feel to it.

After turning down an offer to give it a test run, we covered it with a black shroud and placed it at stage left, at the front. For the entire show “The Box” would remain a curious stage piece for the audience and a looming reminder for myself.

The show was going incredibly well. Musical group Jazz Unhinged had raised the roof…over and over.

The manic comedy magic of Doctor Dale was funny and mind-blowing (we still don’t know where the banana went).

And the crowd received both my stand-up routine and inspirational message with laughter and silence (at the appropriate moments).

Now, the time had come. The grand finale. My biggest fear was about to be attacked. As I introduced the final segment of the show, I reaffirmed that “the jokes may have been funny, but the fear was no joke” and wandered over to the mysterious mass to my left.

Pulling off the shroud, “The Box” was revealed to the audience as Jazz Unhinged played the Funeral Death March (with a touch of Darth Vader’s Theme, I think). It was a dramatically funny moment. After explaining what was about to happen, and taking a deep breath, I called Dale, the magician, and Dan, the coffin maker, to the stage.

Although “The Box” was shaped liked a coffin, it functioned like a drawer. A small door at the head was unlatched and a wooden panel was slid out. I lied down on the “stretcher”, with my head and toes touching each edge almost perfectly.

A strap was placed across my forehead, to keep my head down and I was slowly slid into what I hoped would not be my final resting place. A beam was inserted where my knees were, to keep my legs pinned down (a nice touch, I thought), and the door was closed.

Being a “performance” piece, a 5-minute countdown clock was put up on the large screen and my face, captured by a camera through a hole in the box, was projected onto a side monitor.

Five minutes is a long time.

I remember doing a lot of deep breathing, listening to the band, experiencing muscle spasms in my shoulders and feeling very relieved as the crowd chanted the final ten seconds.

As the clock struck zeros, I was pulled out (quickly) to a very encouraging cheer from the crowd and Jazz Unhinged playing the Up Standing Comedy Theme Song. Victory!

One dream down. 17 to go.

It was an inspiring experience for me and hopefully for all those in attendance. As one person said, “I’ll never forget the box”. And…neither will I!

*More pics and video are being posted HERE
Dare 2 Dream,

1 comment:

  1. Hello everyone, Doctor Dale here:

    My heart went out to Tim as he tried to take the mic after "The Box" to thank everyone that made the night possible. He stood fine for what could have been a minute but the whole experience had taken it's toll on him. His body started to involuntary shake. It was scary for me to watch... I thought that his knees would give way and he would surely collapse.

    I sat on the edge of my seat, poised and ready to run up on stage to catch his limp body. But he held it together and finished the night of with grace and class. Timmy's mind... the power of one!

    Dare 2 Dream & may God be with you!