What Horse-Racing and Fear-Facing Have in Common

Written by on 07 May 2014

This past weekend I had the pleasure of watching the 140th running of the Kentucky Derby.


In person.

In Kentucky.

At Churchill Downs.

Wearing a say-weet hat.

Drinking a mint julep.


Cue the Bucket List check-mark music!


(I’m pretty sure mine is the Rocky theme song… but I could make something by Lady Gaga work, too.)


Despite the opportunity to have what I like to refer to as a "Life Moment", this weekend ended up being about so much more than the Derby or Bucket Lists.


That’s because this particular weekend was a direct result of my risky but rewarding decision to quit my job and travel around the world on Semester at Sea. Yes, I’m sure you’ve heard more than you ever wanted to know about how this experience has shaped my post-college-pre-marriage years, but hey, it was a big decision, so I’m going to keep pressing it for all the story-telling juice it’s got.


Here’s how it all went down.


Semester at Sea was the kind of adventure that bonded people for life.


I guess sharing a 500-ft living space for four months and experiencing all nature of food-borne illnesses from 16 foreign countries just has that effect on people.


Go figure.


Anyway, by the end of the trip, after countless days and nights with no technology and no distractions other than planning in-port adventures or preparing for the Sea Olympics, we got close. Closer than a lot of people who I’ve known my entire life. Closer than I’ve been with people in a really long time.


As you can imagine, being suddenly ripped apart from these people at the end of the voyage was a nearly unbearable thought. Thankfully, the trip ended in Barcelona, so we were able to keep the dream alive for just a little bit longer.


With sangria and Spaniards, no less.


After several days of sight-seeing, dance-parties, and late-night heart-to-hearts, it was just about time to say goodbye. However, as many of you may already know, I hate goodbyes (and endings in general), so rather than “goodbye,” I went with “see you later.”


What was that “later,” you ask?


Well, if you’re awake at all (which I am definitely not after 2 hours of sleep and yet another round of “see you laters”), you should already know the answer to that question…


The Derbs, of course!


One of the boys in our group of reluctant revelers was born and raised in a small town right outside of Louisville, Kentucky (Mount Washington to be exact). At the time we were in Barcelona, the 2014 Pony Races were exactly one year away, and thus Kentucky was officially named our Pipedream Reunion Destination.


Ahhhh Kentucky.

Land of the lakes.

Home of the holler.

Where shotguns and shoeless people abound.

(Please feel free to don your best Southern accent, if you so choose.)


Now, considering the amount of time elapsed (one year) and the magnitude of scheduling involved (6 separate schedules), our little reunion was definitely a longshot at best.


Sorry, couldn’t help but throw in the racing pun.


Got horse bettin' on the brain!


Thankfully, that same boy also happened to be the Connector of the group in every Malcolm Gladwell-sense of the word. He's the glue to our macaroni masterpiece, if you will. He managed to corral, cajole, and otherwise convince 5 college students and one life-long learner (makes me sound old, huh?) to drop everything and hop on a flight to good ‘ole Kentucky to see the Derby-derbs.


Don’t let this feat go unnoticed, people.


It took some work on Cody’s part to get all six of us to the Bluegrass State successfully. Three separate flight arrivals, four city tours, one nine-hour car ride, and several Ale8-1’s later, we were all sitting in Cody’s backyard, under the stars, doin’ what we do best…


Talkin’ ‘bout life.


Now, you should know that these life-chats of ours are no ordinary conversations. I’ve found that there are actually very few people in this world who take the time to discuss important things with friends. Rather, there are very few people who are vulnerable and honest enough to even think about discussing important things with friends.


Not who cheated who and who’s bein’ true.


Real stuff.


Life stuff.


Again, not a little gossip, comin’ from a loose lip.


Real stuff.


Life stuff.


In this case, we were talking about a big topic of conversation here on tracytimm.com, one of the Mack Daddy’s of them all:




Now, I don’t know about you, but I know that I can look back on an awful lot of decisions in my life and see how they were based at least somewhat on fear or a derivative thereof. I’d imagine that if you’re reeeeeeeeeally honest with yourself, you can see a similar pattern somewhere in your life, too. That’s not to say that we let fear dictate our everyday lives. Maybe some people do. But on average, even the strongest person is susceptible to fear-induced behavior based on anything from societal norms to self-imposed standards.


And if anything ever was life-chat fodder, this puppy is it.


So there we were, in the safest of spaces, allowing conversation to be what it was, inspiration to come as it may…


When it happened.


Through the miracle of the iPod shuffle, one of my favorite songs of all time, and perhaps the most perfect song for this particular moment, started playing.


It was by none-other-than Joshua Radin.


Aptly titled:


“No Envy, No Fear.”


Backstory here:


I absolutely love Joshua Radin.


Say what you want, inevitable naysayers. I’m sure that it’s mostly likely “nay,” but whatever. He’s the shit. And I stand by him.


That’s because he is one of the few artists I’ve ever found who can so precisely and poignantly write words that resonate with real-life.


In short, he speaks the truth.




If you don’t know him, do yourself a favor and listen to “One of Those Days,” “Brand New Day,” or “You Got Growin’ Up to Do.” I guarantee at least one, if not all, will touch your heart.


But back to “No Envy, No Fear.”


Now, I hadn’t heard this song in quite some time, but seeing as how Divine Timing so readily added Mr. Radin to our conversation, I figured I had to give him another listen.


As per usual, this did not disappoint.


That’s because…


He nailed it!


He absolutely, freakin’ nailed it.


What I realized at the end of our life-chat and after several rounds of Radin on repeat is that these lyrics sum up exactly what I've been trying to say all along! He nails exactly what I believe about us as people and exactly why I write these stories.


I was almost tempted to say I couldn’t have said it any better…


But I’m gonna try, anyway.


With his help, of course.


The song starts out:

Some are reaching, few are there

Want to reign from a hero’s chair

Some are scared to fly so high

Well this is how we have to try


Isn’t that true?


Aren’t we all trying to get somewhere, achieve something, meet someone? Have influence, find importance, be remembered?


Don’t we look to the few who’ve accomplished this feat for inspiration?


Does their aspiration intimidate or illuminate? When we get scared, is it by the possibility of failure or the possibility of success? Which is worse?


But then he says:

Have no envy and no fear

Have no envy and no fear


We don’t need to be afraid of our limitlessness.


He continues:

Brother brother we all see

You’re hiding out so painfully

See yourself come out to play

A lover’s rain will wash away


Isn’t that true?


How easy is it to pull away when things get hard, to struggle alone, to hide our pain?


All in the name of saving face.


How often do we forget that others have come before us? How quickly do we overlook the help and guidance so freely given by others?


But how many times have you been healed by the heart of another—a friend, a neighbor, a lover?


So he says:

Your envy and your fear

So have no envy and no fear


We don’t need to be afraid of being vulnerable.


The song goes on:

When your sister turns to leave

Only when she’s most in need

Take away the cause of pain

By showing her we’re all the same


Isn’t that true?


Haven’t you turned your back on an outstretched hand in the name of pride or self-sufficiency. Have you seen a friend do the same? Have you ever looked back and realized that was your lowest low, your darkest dark, your deepest deep?


How did it feel to finally take that extended hand only to find that you were never as alone as you seemed?


That somehow, miraculously, thankfully, someone somewhere had been where you are, seen what you see, and most importantly, gotten through what you’re going through?


Have you experienced that thrill that is recognizing yourself in another?


And the peace that follows?


So he says:

Have no envy and no fear

Have no envy and no fear


We don’t need to be afraid to be healed.


The song ends:

Every day we try to find

Search our hearts and our minds

The place we used to call our home

Can’t be found when we’re alone


Isn’t that the truest of all?


Don’t you sometimes get so lost in your own thoughts, so deep in your own concerns, and so overwhelmed by your own choices that you feel utterly paralyzed? Like you can’t possibly figure anything out or you’ll never have all the answers?


Have you ever gotten so fed up with that state of being that you finally search outside of yourself?


Have you ever realized that true “clarity comes from engagement, not thought,”? That often the questions you pour over in your mind can be answered by simply looking outside of yourself connecting with the people around you?


That home is where your heart is?


So it ends:

So have no envy and no fear

Have no envy and no fear


We don’t need to be afraid to seek truth.




We need constant reminders to live life consciously.


We need life-chats and life-long friends to remember to walk away from envy and fear.


We need weekends in the boonies and stories on websites to remind us to embrace love and bravery.


Ultimately, we need each other to find ourselves-- our fear-facing selves.


And others need us too.




Where could you turn away from envy and fear and embrace love and courage? Who is already doing that in your life, and how can you learn from them? How could you give that gift to others?


I believe that every greatness we enjoy right now can be traced back to one person, conversation, or observation that provided a turning point in our lives. I’d love to hear if you believe this, too.


Did this story resonate with you? Or did it make you think of a story of your own? Share your story or your reaction in the comments below.


Because sharing stories an instinctual, powerful way to touch the hearts of others and change the world around us.

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