Encountering Fear | Forever Unlimited
I was texting a friend who is facing some challenges, and thinking about how important it is to transcend fear. I’ve been working on it for years. It is both a practical idea and a metaphor for life.
When one is in a situation that is potentially dangerous, many factors come into play. Let’s use the example of when I used to hike out in the wilderness in California, and on rare occasions, encounter mountain lions.
The mountain line perceived me as an enemy because I was near the baby. I was just walking on a fire road that led up the mountain. I heard a noise and peered into the bushes below on the hillside. I saw a little mountain lion cub face looking up at me from about 30 feet down, in the trees. Just then, I heard bushes up above the Fire Road suddenly crashing, and I could see the top of the vegetation moving as well, as something…a shadowy figure, was rapidly moving towards me.
I didn’t actually have time to be afraid, but I had to think fast. I also had to rely on my instincts….so my adrenaline kicked in, and time stood still…I was able to think calmly, rely on my prior knowledge…
My instincts told me “don’t run!” and the knowledge I had, from having seen warning signs posted, and having read about Mountain line encounters, is that I had to make myself big. I had to be brave, and I had to basically scare it away…while at the same time, side-stepping, to present less of a threat, and avert danger, by no longer being between the mother and the cub.
So when I made myself big, I stomped my feet, yelled and waved my arms, clicking two rocks together above my head. I kept doing that as I sidestepped, then walked backwards, for 200, maybe 500 yards, till I reached a place where there was a hairpin turn that went through heavy Woods down to the lake where I had to cross a dam to get back to my Jeep.
I had concern, but not fear. This allowed me to make a graceful exit, so I was not perceived of as “enemy”. And because I didn’t feel fear, she didn’t smell fear coming from me.
This was a great lesson, how to save my own life. It wasn’t my first dangerous encounter, but pretty much was my last, because I stopped putting myself in those situations.
Now I’m on the East Coast, wondering how to transcend my fear of bears! 🙂
I haven’t hiked here on the East Coast since I was a teenager, backpacking along part of the Appalachian Trail on Maine with my boyfriend. Perhaps it’s time to give it another go, with another beau. ❤