How to feel alive

A few months ago I was walking in the woods and a fisher cat crossed the trail about 50 feet ahead of me. I had never seen one in person and it took me a few seconds to run through the possibilities of what I was actually seeing – is that a raccoon? No. Coyote? No. Dog? No. And so on. Once I realized what it was, I turned and ran/speed-walked home.

I spend a lot of time in the woods walking, mostly by myself. I have since I was a kid. I don’t ever remember being scared. But now I was. I’ve been told many times these guys are vicious. I stopped walking my favorite trail for fear we’d meet again.

I decided I had to get over myself and get back in there. I do a lot of loud clapping so they know I’m coming. Sometimes if I hear something, I grab a large fallen tree limb and run down the trail with it like a jousting knight.

I walked this morning earlier in than I usually do and I found myself starting to get nervous again.

When I walked for years on that exact trail, there was always wild animals around me, I just never saw them. We see and hear coyotes, bobcats, deer, bears on a daily basis. So, when I’ve felt totally comfortable, when I’ve felt totally safe, it was actually a peaceful illusion. Those animals were always there, likely checking me out.

The danger was there all along, I just never felt it. The illusion that I would always be safe there was gone now.

And that’s life. 

I’m just a human in that woods. I’m just one living thing amongst thousands of living things, sharing that woodsy spot of earth. I’m all up in my humanness feeling good, but there’s all sorts of nature happening around me. 

And that’s life.

We do things to feel okay. We want so badly to feel safe. We do everything we can, all the time, wanting and hoping to feel okay.

We don’t accept that life, much of the time, is simply not okay.

And we forget that we can’t change that.

I had to teach myself how to feel good when I knew I wasn’t okay. Part of that was accepting this truth.

And now I feel alive. All the way alive.

One thought on “How to feel alive

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