Facing Fear of the Unknown

Adventures in Audio
Lisa Bralts

Say “adventure” to me. Go on. Say it.

Yep. I’m thinking of climbing a mountain. Oooh, yes, I’m kayaking some rapids. Who’s that? Cheryl Strayed hiking the PCT? HIGH FIVE, girlfriend! Hey, Diana Nyad, you swimmer-with-sharks, you – WHAT UP? What’s that? What am I doing? Oh, nothing. Just hanging out in Antarctica with some penguins.

Adventure is a word that, for me, connotes rigorous physical activity in an uncomfortable environment. I’m working hard. I’m facing down fear. I’m being a badass. There is no comfort zone. It’s a scary endeavor, adventuring. And sweaty.

Or… not.

Much as I’d like to hike the PCT or do some yoga on a paddleboard in Bali or attempt fly fishing in Montana or find myself lost in the Swedish countryside without a map, it ain’t happening anytime soon. I’m at the part of my life where I’m facing an empty nest, but then there’s the baby bird’s college to try to pay for. I’m at a decent place in my career; it keeps us in health insurance, but it also keeps me where I am. These are pesky limitations, and I totally acknowledge the great good fortune of having good, engaging work, an A+ spouse, and a couple of totally awesome almost-adult children; I just can’t be all about adventuring on mountain faces. I have to find something else to keep me challenged.

I like to brag that I’m up for whatever. Bring it, I say. But here’s the thing, and I know most of you are with me: I can always identify exactly the thing I need to start doing by the amount of thought I put into procrastinating actually doing the thing. That thing, for me, right now, today… is learning how to edit sound.

You read correctly. The idea of learning how to edit sound FREAKS ME OUT.

By day I’m a marketing director at an NPR affiliate in Illinois. But in my free time, for a few years, I was a volunteer correspondent for the station. Back in those days of yore, I just (“just”) wrote the stories, gathered nat (natural) sound, did the interviews, and gave the pieces my voice. No one told me how to do those things – I just did them. I had an editor who would stitch all of those parts together for me, mostly at my direction, to make them sound good enough for the radio. It was a nice, productive relationship that got my work out into the world, but did not require me to learn anything new.

Then The Editor retired. And I stopped making audio, even though I had really nice audio editing software on my laptop. Even though my A+ spouse bought me a basic podcast rig, hoping I’d teach myself. That was over a year ago.

Here’s the thing. I have this idea, in my head, of how I want the work I create - the stories I gather sound for and write and voice – to sound, and I’m afraid that what I come up with on my own won’t live up to that idea, and everyone will know. It will become obvious that I’m unteachable, past my prime, a fraud.

Where’s the fun in that? WHERE IS THE ADVENTURE?

It’s become clear to me, since the Editor retired, that if I want to keep making audio, if I really want to make a go of it and have fun doing something I really and truly love doing, I need to allow myself to do it myself. I need to take the plunge. I need to paddle the board, swim with sharks… and get my multitracking house in order.

How about you?