In the book, I will pair a personal narrative - my attempt to face and overcome, or at least renegotiate, my biggest fears - with a deep dive into the science of fear: how it works in our brains and our bodies, and what it means, in concrete terms, to “cure,” “conquer,” or otherwise defeat our fears. I’m excited about it!
Most of my personal fear-facing work is done now (whew), and I’m deep into writing and trying to get a strong handle on the science. (Certain high school teachers would be shocked, I’m sure, to learn that I now spend a fair bit of time reading scientific papers.) My completed manuscript is due to my editor in 4.5 months, so I’ll be hunkering down with this thing for the winter.
In the meantime! A story that I wrote for Esquire last year
will be the basis for one chapter of the book - you can check it out if you want a preview. The story has also been included in The Best American Science and Nature Writing 2018
, which is pretty cool. It’s about my attempt to use beginner-level rock climbing as a form of exposure therapy for my stubbornly potent fear of heights.
In other fear-related news, I recently saw Free Solo, the new documentary about climber Alex Honnold’s unprecedented ropeless ascent of Yosemite’s El Capitan. It was beautiful and disturbing! And yes, I had sweaty palms throughout. Here’s a behind-the-scenes mini-doc from the New York Times: