Healthy fear, like sound courage,
can protect and save lives.
Unhealthy fear, like sheer arrogance,
can harm and cost lives.
A man famed for his tree-climbing skills once directed another to climb a tall tree and cut branches. While the fellow was precariously balanced aloft, the tree-climber watched without a word, but when he was descending and had reached the height of the eaves, the expert called to him, ‘Careful how you go! Take care coming down!’
‘Why do you say that? He’s so far down now that he could leap to the ground from there,’ I said.
‘Just so,’ replied the tree-climber. ‘While he’s up there among the treacherous branches I need not say a word – his fear is enough to guide him. It’s easy places that mistakes will always occur.’
Essays In Idleness [徒然草: Scribbles In Vain]
Translated By Meredith Mckinney