Monday, May 24, 2010


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?

1 comment:

  1. One of my current fears is the fear of falling the wrong way. My neck is now stable, but my lower back is unstable. One wrong fall could mean no more walking for me.

    Now I don't fall much as I keep my arms busy as well as my legs when I walk. Sometimes it is just 'wall walking' when I keep a hand ready to catch myself supported by the wall or at least soften a potential fall.

    Right now my legs are getting pretty unstable. My titanium knees have loosened up so that they wobble from side to side. Thank goodness I get one new one June 10th.. But of course that one will not be totally stable for a few weeks until all the muscles and ligaments heal. I had the paramedics here twice in one week to pick me up from a fall as I cannot get up from a flat surface without help.

    I see no reason to sit down and do nothing just because a wrong fall might happen. That wouldn't be living life. When I think of all the things I've done over the past 16 years that I wouldn't have if I wasn't willing to take a little risk, it takes my breath away trying to calculate just the number. The joy I received by doing things is way beyond mere calculation. After the knees are replaced and healed the neurosurgeon says he can rebuild the lower back like he did the neck. While you were gone we had a mylegram and CT scan for the neurosurgeon and pain management doctors to see what they are dealing with. Experiencing an almost fall sends the adrenalin rush that MO is describing when all of your senses are more sensitive.

    I am so happy to have you back. I can't wait to hear some of your tales of your trip. I know you have given many people the incentive to continue to work to save precious environments for dwindling numbers of important species. I know your ideas will ripple out to many many people whom you have not even met.