Fear3 min read
If leopards had the heart of a lion, they would rule the plains. Their stealth, acute hearing (five times better than humans), and hunting only in the dark of night make leopards virtually undetectable. Although full-grown male leopards weigh in at only about 165 pounds, their nearly 3-inch canines, retractable claws, and ability to run at 36 mph, jump forward 20 feet and into the air 10 feet, and kill an animal with one swift bite to the neck make them one of the world’s most-feared and deadliest killers.
One of South Africa’s most well-known big game guides, Dries Visser Sr., was attacked by a wounded leopard after one of his hunters made a poor shot. While Dries was searching for the animal, it sprang from the long grass, taking Dries to the ground. A leopard will dig his claws into his victim’s scalp with one paw, lock onto a shoulder with the other, then grab his prey by the neck and sink his long canines into the throat. Once he has a good hold, he’ll disembowel his catch with his two powerful hind legs claws in a matter of seconds. If you’ve watched a housecat, it’s exactly what they do when they are in a fight; a leopard can turn out the lights on his victim in a snap. Knowing all of this about a leopard’s tactics, Dries immediately shoved his fist in the leopard’s mouth, keeping it from being able to clamp down on his throat. As fate would have it, the leopard’s hind legs weren’t working correctly as a result of the misplaced rifle shot. And that is what kept Dries alive until those who could hear his screams could get to him and dispatch the fearless predator.
Sometime in the minutes that followed after the leopard was killed, they sat Dries on a picnic table and bandaged up his hand and wrist where the leopard had fileted his skin down to the bone. Several days after the attack, I received pictures of him sitting there, bandaged and bloody, his one ear nearly torn off from the leopard’s claws. Dries was smiling. SMILING! I questioned my friend who’d sent me the pics, “Why was Dries smiling?” The response: “If you’d just survived a tornado of teeth and claws trying to tear you limb from limb, you’d be smiling, too!” Lucky for Dries, his father had instructed him many times as a boy that the first thing you do if attacked by a leopard is get your fist in his mouth before he can get his mouth around your neck. Because he’d renewed his mind many times with this lesson, it ended up saving his life.
Fear can clog up your thinker like a frozen drink and cause you to make poor decisions, or even become paralyzed – unable to respond. When a man is afraid of his wife, fear can cause him to shut down and not communicate. When he’s afraid he doesn’t have what it takes to raise a son or daughter, he will disappear to the garage, the woods, or the television. Fear of not being enough can also come out looking like anger, which can manifest itself in many different ways. A man can experience anger in the present when thinking about something that might happen, but actually be responding to something that has happened in his past. Fear arises from the perception of danger and the thoughts of not being able to handle a situation. It leads to either confrontation (fight) or escape (flight). Either choice is unhealthy and leaves him feeling naked and afraid.
The result? Shame.