Thoughts and Reflections: Overcoming Fear

By Richard Mabey Jr.


Skinner’s Bridge is a most eerie, haunting site to see from the front of a canoe. Namely because, after crossing beneath this old bridge, in just a few yards a person is thrust into the mighty rapids of Skinner’s Falls. The furious, white water rapids are only a quarter of a mile in length, but the entire time of riding the white water, your heart beats wildly, like a big bass drum.


The first time I came to see Skinner’s Bridge, from the front of my canoe, dreaded fear reached deep into the chambers of my heart. I was 13 years old, a Star Scout in Boy Scout Troop 170. Dad was with me in our canoe. So many of the older boys in the scout troop had told me of the dangers, the pitfalls, the white water, the huge boulders that could snap your canoe in half if you hit them broadside. So, when I saw Skinner’s Bridge for the very first time ever, fear raged through every fiber and sinew of my being.


There are quite a few film clips of Skinner’s Falls on YouTube. Some of them are quite good and give a fair representation of what it’s like to traverse Skinner’s Falls in a canoe. There was always a great sense of relief that I would feel in my heart, mind and soul, when Dad and I would reach the calm, serene flow of the Delaware River, just after having successfully guided our canoe through the white water, the rapid river’s flow and the huge boulders that abounded at Skinner’s Falls.


I think that the fear I felt, when I saw Skinner’s Bridge, brought about the greatest fear I had ever known in my teenage years. It surpassed my fear of chemistry tests, asking Pamela Rawlings to a school dance and the deep fear I had in my senior year of high school as to whether or not I would be able to cut the mustard of college.


Fear can be a debilitating thing. It can rob a person of clear, rational thinking. It can block a person from climbing greater heights in life. Fear can dig its ugly claws deep into the inner fiber of an individual’s self esteem. It can paralyze growth. Fear can kill ambitions, dreams and goals. It is a most dark and relentless enemy.


Fear is the black darkness that can be overcome by a single candle’s flame. It doesn’t require five 100-watt light bulbs to evaporate the dreadful darkness of fear, it only takes the flick of just one single, solitary match.


Whatever your source of fear may be, find your own steadfast candle flame. Comfort and hope may be found in prayer, meditation, taking a walk along a forest path, reading inspiring works, talking to a friend, spending time with a pet cat or dog, doing an act of kindness for someone else. The main thing to remember is not to ever give in to feelings of fear and anxiety.


When I was 17, during the Summer of 1971, I faced Skinner’s Bridge for the fifth and final time of my teenage years. I confess that it still brought fear into the deep chambers of my heart. But not to the degree that it did, back when I was 13. For I had conquered Skinner’s Falls four times before. I respected the dangers of Skinner’s Falls, but I no longer held an overwhelming fear of seeing the eerie and haunting Skinner’s Bridge.


Find your truth, your own way to conquer fears and anxieties. Focus on goodness. Tell yourself a thousand times that you are capable of great accomplishments. Don’t worry about finding the 100-watt light bulbs. Simply take the first step and light one single candle.


Richard Mabey Jr. is a freelance writer. He can be reached at Please reference “Thoughts and Reflections” on the subject line.

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