Fear Setting Vol. 1 – Car Camping

I didn’t think an HEB parking lot would be so scary. I saw a cop. Wrong reason to be scared at 11 o’clock at night? Just goes to show you the type of sketchy activity I’m up to right now. I’m writing this intro after a lonely cig in the driver seat of my car with the AC blasting, and I’m currently halfway through this hot and steamy adventure that I’m about to take you on. So, buckle up! Or more formally, hop in your backseat for the worst yet most thrilling night sleep of your life. 

Apart from goal setting is the complete opposite diabolical cousin. Fear setting: Purposefully starting a friendship with the irreversible consequences of risk, but without the irreversible consequences coming into effect. The truth here is that your goals from a year ago have been fulfilled. That list is expired. And ripping the very things that you love most and appreciate everyday will allow you to endure the pain and fear of losing them when you get to points where you might actually lose them. You’ll grow used to discomfort and that by itself will not only increase your ability of self-control in making responsible choices, but your fear setting experiences can be used as fuel to avoid ever thinking irrationally when it comes to important decisions related to your career, close relationships, etc. Taking action on your goals is the most important thing here, and you definitely do not want to cheat yourself into not knowing what lies on the other side. In order to be extraordinary you have to do extraordinary things.

I did not go into this journey unprepared. I’m in the parking lot of HEB for God’s sake. I went ahead and got the type of dinner I imagine myself being able to aquire if I lost everything. Granola bars, an apple, and a 50-cent bottle of water. I brought a book to keep my spirits going, Tools of Titans by Tim Ferriss. I parked my car directly under a street light in the back of the 300+ car parking lot, near a Whataburger. I have two (2) neck pillows that I plan to use for support and hopefully will comfort me in my sleep. I didn’t bring any blankets because I figure since I’m in Houston, it’s going to be quite warm.

I end up shutting the car off at 11:30 to get the ever so sweet, thrilling sleep I had promised myself. What a great combination right? I’m ready for it, but 20 minutes in I’m hot. Wow. It. Is. Hot. Depressingly hot. It’s 82 degrees at midnight. I can see the sweat on my arm reflecting off of the light from the light post that I’m under. My t-shirt is basically soaked in sweat. I’m feeling the pain right now. Think about this, you’re tired. But it’s the type of tired where you can’t even keep your eyes open and it feels like your eyelids are crusted over. You continue to open them every fifteen seconds anyway because your body is in the wild. Survival mode. You can get comfortable, and even imagine yourself lying in your bed. That’s a good idea. Some would even call it a great technique to fib to yourself. But here’s the thing. It. Is. Still hot. 

At this point I still don’t regret my decision. It’s quite unusual the way I am thrilled. By going against the norm, I’ve sparked a flame of inspiration in myself that I envision will eventually start an electric fire that sends my small sedan into flames, evaporating any self-doubt and disbelief I may have had. God, I hope that doesn’t actually happen. I sit straight up in my backseat, contemplating whether I should hop in the driver seat and crank the AC, but that would definitely wake me up and keep me from achieving the goal. I sit for another minute or so, and decide to hop out of the car to enjoy that lonely cig I mentioned in the introduction. 

I get back in the car, this time I’m in the driver seat, AC filling my lungs with delicious fresh air. I’m awake now. I decided to take a break from the courageous feats I’m undergoing, and take a little time for some introspection. Right now, I feel strong. No, I feel invincible. NO. I feel – oh sh*t. Is that one of my friends pulling into the Whataburger drive through? Somebody that knows me? You bet it is. I can see him. His black SUV, his hat, his soul. Don’t look this way, Zane, don’t notice me. It’s not pretty. What would happen if I called him? “Dude no way that’s you getting Whataburger right now.” “Yeah, that’s me!” He would say excitingly. “Uh quick question… What are you doing out here alone at 1AM?” Yeah, I would love to save that conversation for a different wild adventure that I take myself on. I watch him peacefully grab his food and drive out of the exit, taking the elegant course to his ever so comfortable home. 

The right thing to do right now is to hop back into the backseat and get the low quality, sweaty night sleep I came out here for. But I hesitate because it’s almost torture. And I have to pee. I know the wrong thing to do right now is to pee in this empty bottle that I have. So I did that. Problem solved. Well, now I need to figure out where to dispose of this urine-filled bottle. Didn’t think about that. Eh, I’ll worry about it tomorrow. I set it on the ground outside of my car. I soon see what looks to be a barefoot, mildly drunk 18-year-old jump out of the backseat of an SUV and run to the side of the dumpster to release a ferocious, earth-shattering stream of urine. Smart guy, he’s going to go home tonight and lay in his bedroom after a fun night out with friends. I should do what he does. 

It’s 3:30 AM, 80 degrees, and by this point I realize that there is more “camping” going on than sleep. The thoughts of despair and regret that I have really make me want to take a trip through the Whataburger drive thru and enjoy an unhealthy snack on the way back to my place where I can take, at this point would preferably be, an ice-cold shower to freshen up, and then hit the sheets. I’m sticking around anyways to fully absorb the experience. Plus, you know how much moms love their beauty sleep. Stumbling inside the front door and blasting the shower doesn’t seem like a wise decision at this hour. 

Well as you can guess the next morning was not pretty, I woke up feeling the worst I have felt in forever. Worse than a hangover, but only for the first two or so hours starting my day. I fell asleep in my front seat around probably 4:30AM and woke up at 9:13AM. That is nowhere near the amount of sleep I get on a regular basis! I could try this again one day, but I found what I was really looking for out of this very night. The heat, sleep, and small spaces are not my preferred combinations at all. I’m finishing this essay in my bed, at home, where I will forever be spending the night until the next adventure. 

I did not follow my daily routine as I planned. I figured for my first time to do something like this I’m definitely going the full distance. That was easier said than done obviously and it’s very humbling that I wasn’t able to follow through the next day. In a sense, by fear setting, I was also goal setting. My goal with this experience was to complete a regular schedule under bizarre circumstances. My ultimate fear is pretty clear at this point. This experience was a weird mixture of both my fear and my goal. Standing face to face with fear, failure, and discomfort was more than I ever thought I was going to achieve out of a situation that I could inflict on myself. 

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