Last month I was backpacking in South Cumberland State Park in Tennessee when I spotted a rattle snake along the trail. I couldn’t go around him because of the slopes in the hilly terrain. I had to pass by that section of the trail.
Luckily I had cell phone coverage so I googled what to do if you come upon a snake while hiking. The advice I received was to sit back for 10 minutes and usually the snake will just slither away. And this one did.
However I never considered that fact that you still have to walk by the area where the snake was, past the leaves, grass, weeds, rocks and fallen logs that would make great hiding places. The snake could easily strike me without me even seeing it! As I thought of that, I got scared.
As I got scared I remember a section of the book Wild, where Cheryl Strayed was hiking the Pacific Crest Trail and she would tell herself, “I am courageous” every time she was scared and then she took action. So, as I worked up the courage to walk the section of the trail where the snake had just been, I repeated to myself, “I am courageous”.
This seemed to have the opposite effect on my and I got a little more frightened. Then I made myself walk, with my 37 pound backpack on, uphill, on the trail past where the rattle snake was. In fact, I kind of ran. I was scared!
The mantra didn’t make me feel courageous at all. I did walk past that are so I guess I am courageous, since I performed a courageous act, but I didn’t ‘feel’ courageous. And that is the key. If you feel courageous, your not being courageous. Courageous is when you feel scared and you you do it anyway.
We’ve all heard that but this was a great experience and lesson for me. I think everyone gets scared. Maybe a select few have conditioned themselves to not be scared somehow, but for the most part, everyone gets scared. The most successful people you know get scared and force themselves to make the call, make the decision, take action, ask the girl out or buy the house. They take action. And so will I!.
How about you? Any good stories to tell?