“I think over again
My small adventures
Those small ones that seemed so big
For all of the vital thingsI had to get and to reach
And yet there is only one great thing
To live and see the great day that dawns
And the light that fills the world”
-- Uvanuk, an Inuit woman shaman recorded in the early 1920s by Knud Rasmussen (quoted in Heron Dance magazine, Issue #27, 2000)
* * * * *
“Sometimes I go about pitying myself,
and all the time
I am being carried on great winds across the sky.”
-- Ojibway song (the Ojibway are Native American peoples of the US and Canada, often called the Chippewa in the US)
* * * * *
Feeling fear comes with the territory of being alive. Any normal human being has occasionally experienced fear. It can be invaluable in protecting us from danger.
Yet actual risks and hazards are relatively few and far between for most of us who live in the United States, as long as we know how to take care of ourselves.
It’s unfortunate that we live in a media-and-news-driven culture that thrives by fostering fear. The day’s news, as presented, is almost guaranteed to create anxiety.
For many of us, thankfully, negative emotions are often outweighed by positive, gratifying feelings like joy, pleasure, and if we’re fortunate, even happiness.
There’s plenty of good news in the world, but it frequently goes unreported. Scary stories get intensely promoted, since they attract more people and increase profits.
This is one reason why fear is rampant in the US. Fears can also be passed down to us by anxious parents. Internalizing such fears makes us especially susceptible.
It’s perfectly reasonable to experience fears or concerns every now and then, such as when we embark on a new activity. Fears usually dissipate once we get started.
Hiking can seem like a major adventure to those who haven’t spent much time in wilder places, although the actual risks are less than with some everyday activities.
As I often say, I know of far more hikers who have been injured by taking bad falls at home or on sidewalks, for example, than on hiking trails (where there are few distractions). The reality is that in spite of what we see in movies, novels & news reports, there’s much more danger lurking in civilization than out in the woods.
I do periodically bring up safety issues when we’re hiking on mountain trails or camping. Thankfully it’s rare in the extreme to have anyone experience a mishap.
Fear is nothing to be ashamed of. But it’s also important to do our best to keep any irrational fears from getting in the way of our enjoyment of the best things in life.
I bring up this subject because it’s not uncommon for people to confess to me that they’re fearful about something in particular, and occasionally about many things.
If you have hiking-related fears or concerns, and wouldn’t mind getting them off your chest (which might help dispel them), you’re always welcome to get in touch.
-- Charlie Cook