1,000 foot drops terrify me. I’ve always been afraid of edges, but the recent hike I went on with K and his sister reminded me of just how powerful fear can be.
The ascent wasn’t scary at all. It even felt spiritual at moments; wind blowing through the trees; clear mind, full heart, can’t lose (thanks Friday Night Lights).
The descent was another story. The view looked different going down, I could see the height at which we were hiking and the lack of any barriers between us and an extinguishing fall. My mind began playing a moving picture in my imagination of me slipping and falling off the edge. Thoughts of my friend who died falling off a rock wall in Zion National Park this spring crossed my mind and made my fear feel real and relevant. My body was seized by terror and the only reason why I didn’t freeze was because my sole goal was to get down to level ground as soon as possible. My body went into autopilot and wouldn’t stop until I reached the trailhead.
Looking back on the experience from the safety of stable ground, I realize how fortunate I am that I don’t experience that feeling of fear on a daily basis. Whether it be from PTSD or crippling anxiety, I feel more empathy for people who must manage how fear takes control of their bodies. I’ve taken peace of mind for granted since I stopped having those childhood bad dreams that feel so real. Hiking this week reminded me that fear is real and has the power to make people behave in atypical ways.