Day 25: Remove the threat, reduce the fear.
Look Pepper, no coyotes!No bears, no coyotes, no eagles! You’re free to roam the forest.
I’m quite certain that most tourists who visit San Francisco have no idea how many coyotes there are in the city parks. The beauty of the city is how quickly you can lose yourself in the abundant greenery of a metropolis. We also walked around Lake Tahoe where there are bears, coyotes and who-knows-what-else waiting in the shadows to pounce on my puppy.
Pepper ≠ Pepper Steak
So as much as I’m a lover of the wilderness and the outdoors, I’m fully aware that coyotes would love to eat my dog for brunch. A lovely stroll for me through the hills and neighborhoods of San Francisco, audiobook churning through my ears, sun sneaking through the fog and … is that a statue? Uh, a statue of a coyote? No, that’s a coyote and he’s alive, well, and eyeing my pooch.
But we moved out of San Francisco this past summer and we live in an area full of forest and woods and hills and meadows. “Guess what, Pepper!? No animals who would tear your limb from adorable limb as I try to strangle it with my earbud chord.”
To the east, there are wild pigs, but not in the woods near us.
Remove the threat, reduce the fear.
Although it will take some time, the fear level is greatly reduced. We walk the woods with reckless abandon. Pepper can run, jump and do a full-drift 180-degree skid into a pile of leaves and no fang-heavy carnivore is lurking in the shadows.
Dog psychology footnote: I’m not sure how much dogs remember and for how long (although it can be surprising). But how much is he really fearful and how much of that is actually me?
Fear is a crippling, debilitating and sometimes painful emotion that can stop us in our tracks. When you dig down to the depths of where your fear is sourced, it can get ugly–and helpful.
If you can’t escape your fears as easily as Pepper moved away from the big bad wolves (OK, coyotes), how can you elude them? Face them head on or divert your path to avoid them?
I might add that if you have no fear, then you’re not being adventurous enough or taking enough risks. But if it’s a fear that you can easily overcome, why keep spending the time in fear and why not get away from it so you can use that energy for something more productive.