I challenge you to sit outside in the mountain air, or a forested area, or an exotic city park (for those of you in Dallas, you may have to get creative…).
Sit there from sunset to sunrise.
Observe the emotions that will course through your veins.
Observe how tense you may get at times.
Observe your reaction when something crashes ten feet from you and you have no idea what monster may be lurking there.
Now stop and think. What has changed? Has anything in the basic reality of creation changed in those hours? No. The thing that has changed is your own sense of control. If the woods were lighted, then no fear would dwell in me. But without light, that simple pinecone falling through the branches could be saskwatch. Don’t laugh – it could be.
I wanted to let my sense of terror proceed as naturally as possible, without squashing and squandering it in my mind. I tried not to be invincible and strong. If something fell, I jumped. If two evenly-spaced lights appeared through the brush, I did not restrain my pulse from getting louder and stronger. If those lights were big and round and green, I screamed (c.f. earlier mountain lion experience). All new experiences for me.
But I am here to report that as of July 7th, nearly all the fear has gone. It all changed that night when I was too tired to care about much, and went crashing through the woods on my own because my partner wasn’t feeling up to it that night. I was a little ticked off (partner probably wasn’t up to it because he was hungover, and I was the one who had just flown in from Texas and had a right to be tired…), so I just marched up that mountain by myself. It never occurred to me that I should be scared or nervous, or something. Little 5’3″ me, a forrest, a mountain, and who knows what hiding creatures in the miles around me. The nerves seemed all but asleep. After that, the fear seemed to be gone. That means that for a person of my learning curve, it takes approximately 12 days to overcome the terror of the night.
A more philosophical view of all this later. For now, I am shocked that it took only 12 days for me to overcome being stripped of my sense of control over life and surroundings. And I am also sure it will take more than 50 more years to overcome that in the rest of my life…