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On this week’s Story Untold, hear from more of the most noteworthy episodes on the podcast about fear — from walking on a highline 1,000 feet in the air, using fear as a tool in marathon competitions, insecurity and how it leads to self-sabotage, and the experience of fleeing a child soldier camp. Snapshots from Ryan Robinson, Patti Catalano Dillon, Sean Stephenson, and Michel Chikwanine.
The first time Ryan Robinson set foot on a slackline, he swore he’d never do it again. An Ironman competitor and rock climber who grew up near Sacramento, California, he ventured onto a line at his local climbing gym, waiting until everyone had left. Today, Robinson is one of highlining’s most recognizable faces — a sport in which participants aim to cross slacklines suspended hundreds of feet in the air, often hundreds of feet long.
“I was just always searching for more … I really wanted to see how far I could push myself until I broke.” – Ryan Robinson
When Patti Catalano Dillon took up running, she was forty pounds overweight and smoked two packs of cigarettes a day. Just a few years later, she became the “queen of U.S. women distance runners” as the first American woman to break the 2:30 mark in a marathon.
“I’m sweating, and I’m breathing hard, and I’m spitting up brown phlegm. I’m cleaning out my lungs. Every run is hard.” – Patti Catalano Dillon
When Sean Stephenson was born, doctors predicted he would not survive more than twenty-four hours because of a rare bone disorder, Osteogenesis Imperfecta — a disorder that led to him suffering 200 fractures by the time he was eighteen. Despite these challenges, the 38-year-old therapist became a world-renowned motivational speaker and author, his message reaching everyone from Richard Branson to the Dalai Lama.
“You can be in a prison cell and be elated, or you can be in a mansion and be in despair. And it comes down to how you are interpreting your reality. You don’t have control of practically anything in life. But what I do know we have control over is what we make something mean.” – Sean Stephenson
Michel Chikwanine didn’t set out to tell his story. Memories of being held captive as a child soldier, witnessing his native Congo go through two civil wars in the late 1990s, and fleeing with his family to become refugees in Uganda were painful ones to revisit, much less retell. Some stories, however, are too powerful to be held in. Today, Chikwanine is an author, peace advocate, human rights speaker, and United Nations Fellow for People of African Descent.
“We arrive at this clearing after hours and hours of driving on a bumpy road, and we basically get told that we’re going to be trained and put into this military. I’m panicking at this time — a five-year-old kid, I don’t know where I am. There’s people with AK-47s yelling at all of us. Kids are crying. The smell of decay [is] all around you.” – Michel Chikwanine