The Adventure Continues…
“Be Love; so much love that when others are with you the are love.” -Abraham Hicks
Fear is the emotion that wrapped around my mind in the fashion a boa constrictor does to suffocate its prey. I have the choice to acknowledge fear – feel it, embrace it, to see the meaning within it.
I grew up in a period of time when stranger danger was not a catch phrase or even a concept of value. I’m not certain when it became a theme expressed to young children. It happened sometime between my childhood and my transformation of becoming a mother. And now, as a grandmother, fear of strangers has its own heartbeat in our culture.
With my bad attitude and strong personality, I did not fear the strangers in the region I resided. I was comfortable in my surroundings and knew my exit points to get out of most unwanted situations. On the road, however, that is not the case. I am unfamiliar with the landscape, the people and so forth.
I was gifted a heavy dose of stranger danger is a reality propaganda that for the first month I camped – BEFORE I LEFT MY HOME COUNTY – that I became fearful of being in my own neighborhood. If a car drove past my campsite, I watched the person in the vehicle like a hawk to see if they were scoping out my site, belongings or me. Once I hit the road, the fear was so intense that I seldom left the confines of the camper. I allowed fear to imprison me to a space of seventeen feet by six and a half. In a phone conversation with an older gentleman who is gifted with a dominate personality asked me why I was doing that. I ended the topic by forcefully telling him he didn’t understand what it’s like to be a woman traveling in unfamiliar territory.
Ah…yes. He was right.
Camping sixteen miles outside the limits of a city big enough for two Walmarts, countless big box stores and an array of fast food chains to satisfy most appetites, I chose to stay out of the city on Black Friday. I needed groceries and a few other things, but decided to let the hoards of people do their holiday shopping thing. I can wait, I thought. Sunday I mentally prepared myself for bumper-to-bumper traffic with deal-crazed-drivers (similar to those in city thirty-five miles from my former home) and the angry mob of shoppers as seen on television. I took a deep breath. Exhaled. And, put the truck in gear.
The interstate into the city was nearly empty. At times, my truck was the only vehicle within view. What? Wait. Black Friday was two days ago, right? After researching wifi hotspot options, I wanted to see what the staff at Best Buy suggested and offered. The store back home was always very courteous and helpful. Stunned at the number of cars in the parking lot, I took a photograph and texted it to my son. The lot, for the most part, was empty. Seriously! I was blown away! The young BB team member was informative, helpful and laughed when I told her about my surprise to the lack of crowds. She assured me this was normal. Customers filled the store during the hot Black Friday sales promotions, but there’s not the crowds like what I described from my personal experience.
I gained the insights I needed from the young woman and headed to Walmart for a new space heater and find out what wifi options they offered. As I drove to the closest store location, I met a handful of cars on the road. I found a parking spot close enough to the door that I felt like I arrived after hours. You know, when they’re closed.
Fear is the trickster coyote who taunts me from inside the canopy of the forest with the yips and howls to the neighboring pack. I feel his leering presence. Staring. Watching. Intimidating. I know they, the coyotes, are just afraid of me as I of them. I walk and intuitively feel them move in step with mine; keeping a safe distance. They, as myself, wish no harm to come to self. Once injured, we become defensive and weakened both physically and mentally. And, it is then the spiral of fear deepens and isolation feels necessary.
“Excuse me. My apologies,” said the husband to me as he walked with his wife who was pushing the cart.
“Pardon me. Go ahead,” said the young woman, pausing, allowing me to walk past as they ambled within the aisle.
“Sorry about that, ma’am. I wasn’t paying attention. Please, go ahead,” the elder gentleman softly said, gesturing a clear path in front of him with his right hand.
The genuine kindness, compassion for others and sincere politeness is what I have experienced in every town and city where I’ve interacted with people. I have yet to meet the snarling cashier, or the impatient shopper loudly demanding that the customer is right (no matter how wrong they are), or the cruelty intended to cause harm to another individual. It feels good to be in areas where life seems more casual and less stressed. I am not witnessing the familiar anxiety and overwhelm I am accustom to at home. I mean, where I used to live. Don’t misunderstand me, I know life isn’t all roses and chocolates. Several years ago I stayed the night at a dear friend’s home on a city block where gun fire in the neighborhood was more common than the sound crickets before and after sunset. In another city, my sons and I witnessed several teenage males walk down the big box store aisles and sweep the shelf contents onto the floor with their arm for fun. These are the types of big city experiences I feared I would encounter on this adventure. I feel blessed; and I find myself saying, “thank you,” each time I exit a building. I am grateful.
On my way home (aka my camper), it sunk in how I’ve allowed fear to prevent me from experiencing “life” outside of my quote unquote container (aka my camper). My hesitation to explore and remain safe has kept me from seeing the sites, wandering too far down the hiking trails alone and truly experiencing the region I am residing for a short period of time. But then, I also have to remember that I am healing from the loss of a child and other significant deaths. I feel weak emotionally; cut off is one way to explain it. It is within our weakness fear forcefully shoves courage from reach.
I came across a sentence starter that caught my attention the other day. Instead of stating, “I am ___” (I am fearful. I am happy. I am chilled), re-word it to, “I am noticing that I feel ____.” Give it a try, Dear One. Powerful, isn’t it? Instead of claiming it as a part of your identity, you’re expressing a part of you – a sensation.
So now I get it. I am noticing that I feel that my fears are nothing more than words others shared with me out of their desire to protect me, keep me from harm and show me what they themselves fear.
On the way…
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