Friday, July 1, 2011

Fortune Favors the Brave

Fear is a funny thing.

I have a lot of phobias.

Spiders.  The dark.  Aliens.  Shadow-monsters-that-want-to-crawl-in-through-my-nose-and-possess-me.  Heights.  Trolls.  Spiders.  Yoga.  Closed in spaces.  Open spaces.  Driving.  Getting lost. Vegetarians.  Spiders.

I am pretty much afraid of everything.

Every day I wake up and realize that there is a whole new day of fear and dread ahead of me.

For example:  I woke up this morning, and had a slight headache.  I thought, "Huh.  This is it.  I have a blood clot in my brain. When I move, it is going to block an a essential artery and I am going to die of a sudden, massive, aneurysm."  The thought made my heart rate spike for a second, and the adrenaline course through my system.

I sat up, and didn't die, and reached over to shut off the alarm clock I have set on my phone.  I paused a moment before touching it.  What if there was a spider sitting on it?  The very thought made my skin shudder, but I reached over and plucked the thing off the end table, flipped it open (yes, I still have a flip phone), and switched it off.

I scanned the floor for creepy crawlies before putting my feet down, then got up and wandered into the living room.

I faced maybe 15 of my fears on my way there, and I didn't scream once.

I think this makes me very brave.

I fear I am a hypochondriac.  I am afraid I will think I am a hypochondriac and will let a treatable but fatal disease go too far and I will die from a preventable illness.  I fear cancer from the sun and my cell phone, and the Diet Mountain Dews I suck down.  I am afraid of dying of an abscessed tooth that is left untreated.  If I get a scratch, I am afraid of lockjaw, but I am afraid of calling people on the phone, so I haven't called around to find out how to get my tetanus booster shot in over 10 years.

But somehow.  SOMEHOW.  I am a functioning member of society.  Most people don't even realize that I panic a little at least 5 times a day.  (OH NO!  I GOT SOMETHING IN THE MAIL!  I AM GOING TO GO TO JAIL OR GET SUED, oh, it's just an ad.)  I worry that all this worry is going to kill me.

It's almost the weekend, finally.  Three day weekend.  Boyfriend and I are going for our first backpacking trip of the year.

...Even though I am afraid of running into a moose who will step on me, and even though I am worried about bears, and spiders, and all sorts of things...

Last summer, Boyfriend and I hiked up to a place called "Lost Lake".  The first night, I kept hearing noises and thinking there were bears and mountain lions outside the tent.  I kept reminding myself that deer make weird noises that are pretty scary, just like cows, and so do raccoons.  It was probably an otter.  It wasn't a troll or anything.

The next morning, as we walked out of our campsite we found a mountain lion track on the trail.

Here, kitty kitty.

And even though I am worried about lightning, and flooding, and getting sick or hurt...

On another trip last summer, we got a late start and didn't hit treeline until noon.  We were hoping to be BELOW treeline by noon, because there are afternoon thunderstorms daily along the continental divide.  Even though the sky darkened and looked all ominous, we didn't turn back. 

It was the first day of the trip.  We were NOT turning back.

I like to think of myself as a reasonably intelligent person, but for some reason, I wanted to keep going.  Even though the storms were just starting for the day, and even though we had miles to walk above treeline.

For a little while, I thought we might actually make it over the tundra and down to the relative safety of treeline.
Somewhere along the way, I had a sore tooth that started aching.  I wanted to stop, but was too afraid of getting fried by lightning.  I was thirsty. I had to pee.  And the rain was whipping my legs like a sadistic jerk.  I sobbed and gasped through mouth because I was crying and there wasn't enough air.

And then all of a sudden we were (mostly) out of danger, and everything was beautiful again, and I was amazed at how far we'd come (we were on that ridge right up there).  And even though I still had to pee and my tooth still hurt, I was excited to be there, happy to be alive, and in a place where 99% of the planet will never reach.
 Last summer I learned that sometimes things that make you cry are still awesome.  And sometimes you just  have to pick the option that is less scary. 

It has been a really rough week at work. It felt like I was being punished for things that weren't my fault.  On the one day I managed to get outside and take a run during my lunch, it was so hot I was afraid I might actually melt and my legs would bend like warm candles.  And I started thinking.

I had just finished reading a book called Between a Rock and a Hard Place by Aron Ralston.  It is the book on which  they based the movie 127 Hours. It's the one where the guy gets his arm smashed in a boulder in a lonely canyon and ***SPOILER ALERT*** cuts off his own arm with a pocket knife in order to get out.

I would imagine that some people would take this story as further proof that going outside and doing stuff is a bad idea.

But as I sat at work yesterday, fighting tears of frustration after not sleeping the night before because I was so stressed out by crap at work, and I thought about how humans are clearly not meant to live in cubicles, and how pissed off I was at nothing in particular, just grouchy, and I thought, "I think I would rather cut off my own arm than be here today."

It was a kind of an epiphany.

No, I didn't quit my job.  I'm way to frightened of life to do that..  I'm afraid of being poor.  Of people judging me.  (Although if I'm honest, I really do kind of want to be a hobo).

Instead, I planned a backpacking trip with my boyfriend for the Forth of July weekend.

And I probably won't die.  But death is definitely less scary than NOT going.


MJ Morgan, Writer said...

Awesome journey through meandering thoughts and preparations ... you will have a GREAT trip. So glad you are enjoying spectacular Colorado's offerings. :)

Julia said...

I think all women have a number of unfounded fears every day! I know I do... I think like most people I fear money (or a lack of)! And this week has been one of the worst in a long time for us... but we got through and hopefully all will look up!

Sometimes you just have to get out of dodge as they say... nature has a way of equalizing the human psychy! Drink it up! Let it heal your heart.. then get your ass back to us because If I have to be a hobo... I'd rather share my hobo'ness with you!

Wow the grammer and spelling is fantastic dontcha thunk?

Anonymous said...

I'm afraid of just about everything, too. Especially aliens.

And monsters under the bed. I always step out superfar to make sure they don't grab my ankles.

Another big fear: Running out of chocolate.

Leauxra said...

MJ: It was an awesome trip. I will start posting about it soon.

Julia: Some of my fears are totally "founded", I think. Especially the ones having to do with spiders. And Vegetarians. I'll let you know if I end up a hobo.

thoughsappear: You're right! I forgot about the under-the-bed monsters. I can't contemplate running out of chocolate.

Cake Betch said...

I get panic attacks when I drive which super sucks because I feel like I'm going to kill myself or someone else but I'm too afraid to do anything but stay in my lane and try to get through them. Fear sucks big time.

Leauxra said...

OK, so yesterday, after driving for over an hour on high mountain roads with twisty turns and exposed cliffs and jerkoff drivers, and all that, what I thought was a bee flew into my window and smacked me on the head. I think that the only reason I survived is that it crossed my mind that I would be known as the lady that died because of a bug if I crashed, and then I realized that THAT was probably the reason for 90% of the reported, "the cause of the crash is unknown" that you read about.

Yeah. I am afraid of fear.

Leauxra said...

Oh, and it wasn't a bee. It was a beetle. Poor thing.

Cake Betch, I think "panic" is my normal state of driving. Doesn't that make you feel safe that I'm on the road?