Two summers ago, I met a bear. It was my first morning in Colorado, when I went out for a walk and discovered a nearby mountain trail. Being able to walk alone out my front door and into raw nature is one of my favorite pleasures of life, so I was singing along and hiking hard, grateful to be there. After a couple hours of happy exploring, I returned to the base of the mountain and was looking at a posted map when I heard a rustling sound. I turned around, and there he was, a bear walking down the trail headed straight towards me.
Not only had I never seen a bear before in real life, I hadn’t even realized that seeing one in this area was a possibility. My very first instinct was shocked stillness. My next first instinct was to flee. I made an involuntary gesture as if to make a run for it, which made the bear approach faster, with more curiosity. So I turned to face him head on, spreading my arms and legs wide, making my most ferocious-sounding, guttural growl.
The bear, now fifteen feet away, stopped, looked me in the eyes, and tilted his head, as if to say, “Huh?” Then he turned away, veering off the trail into the forest. Heart-racing, I watched him go, holding myself back now from following him. He had scared me to death and was the most beautiful creature I had ever seen.
Is there something you’re afraid of that may be coming towards you, like it or not? Maybe there’s a big change you’ve considered making, and though you don’t feel completely ready, it’s starting to happen anyway. Or perhaps you’ve been keeping parts of yourself hidden out of fear of being judged, but it’s becoming more painful to hold back now. We must do what we are called to do, even when the reasons don’t line up. It’s like hiking alone in the deep forest. Maybe it’s not the safest thing to do. But sometimes what we love requires facing what we fear. It’s how we find out we are strong enough.
Last year, on the same mountain trail, I started climbing a waterfall when I lost my balance, flipped over backwards, and luckily landed in a shallow pool of water. Alone, with less than half a water bottle left and one ankle/foot clearly unable to move, it was up to me to get myself down the mountain far enough to find phone service and call for help. I had to wear an ankle boot for two months and couldn’t take a walk again all summer. This mountain has been schooling me! I am approaching it this summer with great humility and respect. I will honor this trail as the pilgrimage route it is, at least for me. It is beautiful, terrifying, and magical, like all paths of courage. The answer, I know, is not to stop climbing the mountain.
I hope you have a wonderful summer, and I hope you decide to take risks for what you love. You’ve got what it takes, even when you’re not so sure that’s true. I always welcome hearing your stories if you’d like to share them too!
PS- I am doing a limited number of remote sessions while we are on the road for the next month or two, so if you’re facing something scary, and you could use someone to believe in you, do get in touch!