“Fear cuts deeper than swords”

I’m in the middle of reading Game of Thrones right now.  My bookmark is halfway through the second book of the series, and honestly, I really can’t see what all the hype is about.  Yes, it’s pretty cool that one guy could come up with all this stuff, and yes, it’s definitely an impressive feat, but no it’s not particularly special.  Speaking as someone who has read a lot of fiction/fantasy, I can safely say that I’ve seen my share of the Game of Thrones genre.  It’s Medieval-ish (they have the Medieval technologies, but it’s not set in a real place), it involves many battles, many preparations for battles and many journeys to and from places of battle.  That’s pretty much all I’m getting from it.  Please feel free to contradict me, I’d love to see it in a new light! (Seriously. Or else I might not make it through this book ,and I promised my friend that I would, even if it killed me)

Despite my ambivalence, there is one line from the book that has stuck with me. There’s a young girl who keeps getting herself into these traumatizing situations (like, she had to kill someone when she was 9??).  Luckily, she’s had great swordsman training from a master who has taught her”fear cuts deeper than swords.” And she repeats this to herself constantly. And she survives because she has incredibly tenacity and bravery (and she’s one of the main characters, although apparently that doesn’t mean much to George R.R. Martin).

I’ve found that this line is relevant to my own life in coding.  If I do a bad job, somebody might impale me with a sword.  Juuuust kidding. I hope. Actually, it’s the fact that fear stops me from doing many things that it shouldn’t.  Ultimately, it’s probably  hurting me more than if somebody drove a sword through me (although my pain threshold is not great, so I’m not really willing to try it out).

One of the main qualities that makes a good programmer is the ability to try things, mess things up, fix them, and try more things.  If you’re not comfortable exploring, you’re basically dead-weight in this field.  By that logic, you might as well just call me a sack o’ potatoes.  Sure, I’ll try whatever if I’m just coding something cute, but when it comes to messing with my operating system or previous versions of my projects, forget about it.  I’ll research the hell out of whatever I’m trying to do, but I’m never sure that I won’t delete something that will cause my computer to die or my important work to disappear. Often, I’ll wait until I can ask my mentor before I do anything that my brain has labeled “dangerous.” I’ll ask a million questions and make sure I’ve got it right before I even try one tiiiny thing that has a tiiiny chance of causing problems.

I’m hoping that this fear won’t debilitate me permanently.  My new way of coping with it is to make a copy of whatever I’m working on and try the scary stuff on the copy.  Today I spent about three hours fiddling around with the copy, and I’m still too terrified to try it on the actual thing. Fear cuts deeper than swords.  

I’d like to say I’m making progress, but I can’t tell yet.  Guess I’ll keep reading Game of Thrones until I see another line that inspires me to just do it (oh wait, that’s Nike).



3 thoughts on ““Fear cuts deeper than swords”

  1. patricksponaugle says:

    Hype is a two-edged sword. I’ve read and enjoyed the books, but it took me several tries to get through the first one. I know this is bad advice, but tackle the second one, and then make sure you read the 3rd one. People claim, and I agree, that A Storm of Swords is seriously great.

    Martin does a lot of great stuff in the books, but some of it takes a while to get to, there’s a slow burn.

  2. soulandmeat says:

    haha! I recently had the same reading struggle with Miranda July’s ‘The First Bad Man’. Ended up pushing through but still came out of it perplexed as to why everyone loved it so much. If you’re looking for a great series to fall into I would recommend Stephen King’s Dark Tower series–I still think about and miss the characters deeply and there’s no shortage of intrigue.

    And fear–yeah, same. Nothing wrong with some safety nets, though.

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