Facing Your Fears

– and Living to Tell the Story

In my younger days, when I had an abundance of time and energy, I went on adventures. I was an explorer – of sorts. No, nothing like Christopher Columbus, Amerigo Vespucci, Neil Armstrong, or Buzz Aldrin. I never had the time to travel around the world, or venture to the moon. But that did not make my small endeavors any less adventurous. Hide-and-seek was the game; I went exploring for treasure! Maybe there was real treasure at the end of my small journeys (gold and such). More often, the sojourns to different places resulted in learning about people, culture, and tradition! I was exploring the past, and the world that we rarely pay any attention to anymore. I explored caves, caverns, and the underworld. There are many things hidden just beneath out feet.

Everyone Has Experienced the Dark

“The dark causes the mind to race with fear.”

Those journeys began in my younger days, after enlisting and serving my country as a United States Marine. It felt good to be young, and strong. All things were possible. The (Marine) Corps taught me discipline and perseverance. Most of all, the Corps taught me to face my fears. And this is one of those stories.

Orienteering and survival are part of every soldier’s basic training. For me, using a map and compass came easy in the forest where you could see the sun, moon, and the stars. But navigating the bowels of an underground cavern was something altogether different. First, the landscape was different – treacherous ground, slopes, and tight spots. Second, there was no pre-trodden path, unless you followed a guide. Third, traversing the underground with sixty pounds of gear on your back was difficult. Finally, you do not know dark until you have been inside a cave. This was where the sun did not reach. The problem was – since childhood – my greatest fear was to be left alone in the dark. I had come face-to-face with my greatest fear.

Image by Stefan Keller from Pixabay

Everyone has experienced the dark. We turn the lights off at the end of the day before going to sleep. A fierce storm may take out the power grid in your hometown, leaving you to fend with candles and flashlights. Truly, I say, if that is your only experience with darkness, then you do not know dark. Even with the stars overhead, there is some light. But imagine no light, no shadows, nothing. Those who are accomplished spelunkers, or cave explorers, understand what I am saying. The darkness is an eerie experience, and something that I never really get accustomed to.

When I wrote my four-part series, From the Story, I placed my characters in the same dreadful place – the underworld. Among all the other obstacles that my adventurers might face, the darkness was one of them. The dark causes the mind to race with fear. We fear the unknown. And when you cannot see anything around you, your world becomes unknown to you. Beware!

Image by SilviaP_Design from Pixabay
Image by SilviaP_Design from Pixabay

Along came a Fighter

“-one willing to face his (or her) own fears.”

In the Dungeon and Dragon’s fantasy tabletop role-playing game, there exists a character class like no other. Unlike the Barbarian mentioned in a previous article, the Fighter class is an exceptional archetype. Often, we do not think twice about a ‘fighter’ character in books and movies. What we read and watch fits more into a stereotype than an archetype. That is, when watching an action and adventure movie, we are expecting the protagonist to be brave and strong, and be able to outwit his (or her) nemesis. But this limited scope undermines the Fighter archetype until we call upon one name – Rambo.

For the purposes of this article, Rambo refers to John J Rambo in the following movies:

  • First Blood
  • Rambo: First Blood Part II
  • Rambo III

I will not refer to Rambo as the character appears in any novel, cartoon animation series, or any movie after Rambo III. I do this because the Fighter archetype is clearly identified through the personification of Rambo in the above-named list.

I joined the Marine Corps – in part – because of the hero/fighter personification from the first two movies. I was a teenager at the time, and I was inspired by the character’s feats of strength, bravery, and heroism. Yes, these were over-the-top movies, but still a source of inspiration for a young man. How many of us draws inspiration from a character that we read about or see in a movie? But this is not my story; this is Rambo’s story. This is the story of how one character clearly defines the Fighter archetype more than any other fictional character. Why? Because he is always willing to face his fears!

The Fighter Archetype

“…is not a hero…”

Before I begin, I will say that the Fighter archetype is not a hero. Although heroes are a good thing, a person can be heroic without being a hero. In the same way, you can be a hero without having any of the characteristics of a Fighter. So, how am I defining the Fighter archetype?

There are many criteria that fit into the Dungeon and Dragon’s personification of the Fighter class. Too many – indeed – to fit into this article. Nonetheless, I will summarize that the Fighter class is a skilled soldier, trained in the use of weapons and armor. More importantly, the Fighter is learned in war – strategy and tactics. And with experience, this knowledge improves exponentially.

Image by Mystic Art Design from Pixabay

Additionally, a Fighter’s core skills include:

  • Acrobatics: stay balanced, land on feet
  • Animal Handling: ride a horse, calm frightened animals
  • Athletics: climb steep walls, jump distances
  • History: recall lore, legends, or history
  • Insight: able to detect lies or gain some type of insight by another’s body language
  • Intimidation: persuade through harm or violence
  • Perception: keen awareness of one’s surroundings
  • Survival: hunt wild game and make use of your physical environment (fire, shelter)

The Fighter is an innately superior being, both intellectually and physically.

Now, who and what is Rambo? Truthfully, the story’s script gives us the best definitions of the Rambo character.

Image by SilviaP_Design from Pixabay
Image by SilviaP_Design from Pixabay

Along came a Fighter

“-one willing to face his (or her) own fears.”

“Let me tell you a story, John. There was a sculptor. He found this stone, a special stone. He dragged it home and he worked on it for months until he finally finished it. When he was ready, he showed it to his friends. They said he had created a great masterpiece, but the sculptor said he hadn’t created anything. The statue was always there, he just chipped away the rough edges. You’re always going to be tearing away at yourself until you come to terms with who you are. Until you come full circle. “

―Colonel Sam Trautman to John Rambo (movie: Rambo III)

All of us have innate characteristics – things that we are intrinsically good at – whether you realize them or not. These forces pull at us – drive us to action. They are our strengths, our gifts, our superpowers. Although the Fighter will attend school, train as an apprentice, and continue to hone his (or her) gifts, the Fighter’s efficiency with combat, weapons, strategy, and tactics is intuitive.

John J Rambo’s character skills and abilities:

“You don’t seem to want to accept the fact that you’re dealing with an expert in guerilla warfare… with a man who’s the best with guns, with knives, with his bare hands… a man who’s been trained to ignore pain, ignore weather, to live off the land, to eat things that’ll make a Billy goat puke. In Vietnam his job was to dispose of enemy personnel… to kill, period… win by attrition. Now, Rambo was the best.”

―Sam Trautman to Will Teasle (movie: First Blood)

Rambo was put in situations that would cause anyone to be afraid. He had a real enemy. Even so, if he were to mentally give up the fight, then his enemy would win – by attrition. But he always fought on! I started this article talking about fear. Sometimes the fear in each of us is the fear of the unknown. When we are not aware of the things that we can become, we are afraid that we will fail if we even try. All of us need a mentor like Colonel Troutman. If you can mentor – then it is your responsibility to do so. Help someone remove the fears and insecurities of realizing their full potential.

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