I made it to the retreat center on the big island of Hawaii, and it is truly gorgeous.
Once again, I’m sleeping to the sound of the ocean, and deeply in nature. My room has only screens on the windows and two of the shower walls.
In fact, it’s a 15-minute walk through the jungle to get here. Which is daunting and awesome during the day, just lovely. Literally everything is larger than me, and just jaw dropping in the sun.
And it all becomes my number one fear at night – specifically, walking through any kind of woods, swamp or jungle at night. I read a borrowed book in Tulum called Divergent, very hunger games-like. One concept was this fear test where they run you through a virtual reality composed of your deepest fears. Mine would mostly entail being alone in nature at night.
Im ok in a car, ok behind windows, ok in a tent surrounded by other tents and close to the bathroom, ok with any kind of barrier between us.
But just me, raw meat walking through the jungle?
I just walked it at night for the first time, and it took every somatic training tool and deep breathing self-talk technique I know.
I thought you might appreciate some of this.
First, when I realized what it was, in the afternoon, I tried to determine how I could get someone to drive me here, or walk with me, at night.
Even thinking of doing that made me feel I was falling off my unfear wagon.
I half remembered a quote from dune, ‘I will not fear, fear is the death bringer.’ (it actually goes: fear is the mind killer, fear is the little death)
and in the afternoon it didn’t look bad except for the final stretch to my room, which is like a tunnel of jungle.
I dive in caves!
I drive through strange new countries alone at night!
I battle scorpions!
I will probably love this!
Night fell like a wet blanket over the wild fire of my brave intentions and quotations.
And it rained, so it was wet dark jungle.
…But I dive in wet dark caves!
My talisman thought crept forward at the edges of the multitude of worst case scenario fear voices in a stage whisper.
Off I went with the little keychain flashlight they included on my keys, and a massive umbrella I borrowed at the front desk instead of asking for an entourage.
It stopped raining five steps into the darkness, but I figured creator sent the rain to help me arm myself with a massive weapon.
After all, even if the 100lb wild pigs they told me about haven’t attacked anyone else ever, there is a first time for everything.
The sounds of birds and insects and night jungle creatures is otherworldly. It’s gorgeous and unceasing, and i think it’s saying, ‘this is our time, and you are outnumbered.’
I saw avatar, I know my relative insignificance in an uprising of nonhumans, even if im an armed and bug sprayed human.
Once the clearly marked solar nightlight path ended and I was on the dirt road less lit and more jungled, I started murmuring.
‘nature is not out to hurt me. To kill me. If i die out here, nature won’t have meant it, it’s just being nature. I’m basically food. I’m not at the top of the food chain at this moment. And it would be death by natural causes. Groaning at a bad joke is better than trembling and standing still til the sounds overwhelm you, so stop hating.’
This went on for a while. I was making it.
Then I entered the jungle tunnel, where the jungle was thick and dark at midday, and felt close and incredibly full of strange sounds at night. My body was a taut wire, tight through each muscle and nerve. The murmuring went internal – if they can’t hear me they can’t eat me.
‘walk quietly. You don’t really need to breathe right now. Just keep swimming, keep moving. Shhh, don’t worry what that is, mind your business. Just look where the light is. Just keep the light on the next step. The light is like a blinder if you use it right. Eventually you will get through this, or you will at least die and you can make papa and grandma brown and Blair laugh at you in the afterlife for dying from fear. Almost there, see that’s a star, that’s all of orion! Oh sorry keep your eyes on the rocky path. almost there, don’t look at the bug by your door just turn the key, there you go, close the door. Now breathe! Alive!! Winning!!!!!’
I made it this time. By and with myself. It took a long time to untighten, but I can grow this now that the first seed is planted, freedom from fear through self challenge, through facing the fear and continuing to walk right into it.
My logical mind can reason through it all, but fear usually doesn’t come from that part of my brain. I like to think its my ancestors reminding me, in this case, that wilderness is wild, and even if I can see the beauty, I shouldn’t lose respect. the idea of them all rolling with me is helpful, surely some of them knew how to survive in jungles at night.
My goal by the end of this month is to be able to make the walk at night on any of the paths. And to not just feel beyond fear, but to experience it as a beautiful incredible life changing walk.