May 24, 2010
What lay on the road was no mere handful of snake. It was the copperhead at last, golden under the street lamp. I hope to see everything in this world before I die..When I moved a little, it turned and camped its eyes on mine; then it jerked toward me. ..My heart was pounding. I stood a while, listening to the small sounds of the woods and looking at the stars. After excitement we are so restful. When the thumb of fear lifts, we are so alive.
I was once in a hunting lodge high in the mountains of California. It was the night before the opening of trout fishing season and I was sipping whiskey with the old timers. We got on the subject of snakes, and I marveled how each of these hardened men told stories of how they had been terrified when encountering rattlers. I inwardly scoffed at their imprinting to snake aversion, perhaps more greatly instilled in males than in females. The next day I was fly fishing on the Yuba River, my companion and I skipping over each other as we fished up stream in the clear pools. I was walking ahead of him when placing my foot down up came a rattlers head and tail, noisy, primal, urgent. I dropped my rod (a clear transgression against the mountain macho code), ran back down the trail, and flung myself into the space of fishing buddy, disturbing his quiet concentration. I lost all kinds of macho points in that moment, but recovered nicely when my male companion let me go first to recover my rod and to see where the snake had gone. Perhaps I'm not macho, but glad to be accepted into the halls of mountaineers who have a healthy respect for danger, and who do not turn from the trail or journey though fear is sure to be present.
What do you fear yet you continue forward?