In the winter of ’81, as Cincinnati lay cloaked in frost and the promise of Christmas warmed our hearts, I dreamt of a jet-black Huffy “Panther” BMX bicycle. The gleam of its chrome spokes and the promise of adventure made my young heart race. Yet, alongside excitement, a shadow of fear loomed. The bike lacked training wheels, and the memory of my friend Gatsby’s fall–his knees scraped, elbows bloodied–played on repeat in my mind.
It led me to a decision that, to this day, holds a lesson about fear and the power of belief.
“Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the assessment that something else is more important than fear.”
– Franklin D. Roosevelt
I surrendered to my fears, crossed the Panther off my list, and opted for the safe haven of Legos. When Uncle Greg visited from Phoenix, his questions about my change of heart prompted only half-truths. I concealed my fear behind a facade of indifference toward the bike.
Christmas morning brought Legos, but also a cocktail of guilt and regret. I retreated to my room, dreading the sight of Gatsby’s fearless rides. But life had other plans. Uncle Greg persuaded me back to the living room, and there it stood by the Christmas tree – the Panther, a glossy beacon of challenge and opportunity.
The room buzzed with excited grins, but none as bright as Uncle Greg’s. His joy, however, met my panic. “I’ll crash!” I cried, fleeing from the bike and the sea of smiling faces.
Uncle Greg followed, sharing a family secret that would forever change my perspective: the Hague family had “special skin”—a belief that our pain was less, and we healed more swiftly—a metaphor that bolstered my courage and cushioned the blows of life’s inevitable falls.
Yes, I fell, but with that Hague special skin and newfound bravery, the falls felt inconsequential. Uncle Greg’s words had unveiled a truth greater than any family legend; our belief in our resilience is the truest form of special skin.
This Christmas tale is about me and my advice to my nephew Jason, my sister’s son. It is founded on my belief that courage can be learned, pain is not absolute, fear is a conquerable foe, and the heights we can reach are limitless if we’re not afraid of the climb.
We all have special skin… if only we believe. And we must believe because beyond fear lies all that we yearn for.
As I’ve grown older, my dreams have become bigger. Time is short. There is no time to linger. I believe in my special skin, and I hope you believe in yours.
On the cusp of 2024, let your special skin shield you from adversity and energize your quest for the greatness you envision. As Jack Canfield said:
Everything we want is on the other side of fear.