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Posts Tagged ‘fear’

Another thing that travel writer Catherine Watson share is that we've both visited the Galapagos and were fascinated by the wildlife, like this tortoise I watched on Santa Cruz Island. == Photo by Pat Bean

Another thing that travel writer Catherine Watson and I share is that we’ve both visited the Galapagos and were fascinated by the wildlife, like this tortoise I watched on Santa Cruz Island. == Photo by Pat Bean

            “What is a fear of living? It’s being preeminently afraid of dying. It is not doing what you came here to do, out of timidity and spinelessness. The antidote is to take full responsibility for yourself – for the time you take up and the space you occupy. If you don’t know what you’re here to do, then just do some good.”—Maya Angelou

The Colors of Fear

            I just read the last chapter in Catherine Watson’s travel book, “Home on the Road.”  I understood the title perfectly as the road is where I, too, feel most at home. Catherine and I are both addicted wanderers. The travel bug bit her when she read the Tarzan books. It hit me when I read Osa Johnson’s “I Married Adventure.” Both of us at the time were still a few years away from being teenagers.  Both of us went on to become journalists – and. being of a similar age, both of us were taught as children how to hide beneath our school desks, cover our heads and close our eyes in case of a nuclear bomb attack by our arch-enemy, Russia.

And visited Ecuador, where I (I don't know where she stayed) stayed at this hotel in Guayaquil. -- Photo by Pat Bean

And we have both visited Ecuador, where I (I don’t know where Catherine  stayed) stayed at this hotel in Guayaquil. — Photo by Pat Bean

The last chapter in “Home on the Road” talks about those Cold War days, and how Catherine’s fears of being nuked negatively impacted her life. Looking back on my own life, I now wonder if that’s when I first begin sticking my head in the sand to block out bad stuff happening around me so I could pretend all was right with my world.

I suspect, having overcome our fears, is why Catherine and I can both fearlessly travel alone to unknown places, and why we’re not obsessively fearful of terrorist alerts, that after 9-11 varied in degree by designated  color – with blue being the lowest danger alert and red being the highest danger.

I can no longer stick my head in the sand and say the danger isn’t real, and even more dangerous than our Cold War fears. But I choose not to live my life in fear.

Catherine’s last story in her travel book related the fears she had as a child to what she was seeing when she took a 1979 Trans-Siberian Railroad trip across the then Soviet Union to get a “first-hand look at the country I’d spent my childhood being afraid of, The truth hit me hardest in Irkutsk…. Half the population was living in log cabins without indoor plumbing…. I watched old people wearing heavy clothes against the cold, carrying buckets and trudging slowly along dirt streets to get to the neighborhood water pipe, and suddenly I was flooded with anger.

“For this? ‘I thought,’ For this I gave up my childhood?”

She went on to say that this time around she refused to be afraid. I guess one time was enough for me, too. But I wonder what negative impacts young children today are suffering because our primary colors have become symbols of danger?

Blog pick of the day. Check it out.

Blog pick of the day. Check it out.

Bean Pat:  Bella Remy’s photos  http://tinyurl.com/n4rpcp2  Great photos of a pair of hoodies, also known as hooded mergansers. Looking at them makes up for the fact I was too slow to photograph the gila woodpecker that stood on my balcony rail this morning. Life is good.

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A white=breasted nuthatch defying gravity. -- Wikimedia photo

A white=breasted nuthatch defying gravity. — Wikimedia photo

             “It’s fine to celebrate success, but it is more important to heed the lessons of failure.” – Bill Gates

From Mother Nature

Recently I watched a white-breasted nuthatch walk up and down a tree trunk. Its antics, for some unknown reason, brought to mind my tree-climbing antics when I young and nimble.  My favorite tree was a large chinaberry that grew in my grandmother’s untamed backyard. The tree stood at the rear of her property, just in front of a huge field of wild blackberries that I collected each year.

I wonder what nuthatches think about hen they are watching people? Don't you.  -- Wikimedia photo

I wonder what nuthatches think about when they are watching people? Don’t you? — Wikimedia photo

There was a large rock beneath that tree, which I used as a first step to get high up in the tree. When the leaves were in full bloom, I would hide from the world, and dream of being a circus acrobat.

I especially enjoyed collecting the tree’s hard, green pea-size berries, as they were excellent ammunition for the nightly neighborhood kid skirmishes when sides were chosen and war was initiated.

Then one day, I discovered a large rattlesnake coiled on the rock I used to boost myself up into the branches of that tree. We both scurried away. The snake was most likely as afraid of me as I had been of it. But I never climbed that tree again.

These berries from a chinaberry tree were often the ammunition for neighborhood kid skirmishes when the fireflies came out at night. I would hide behind something and throw out a handful when an unsuspecting victim passed by, usually the pesky boy next door, .

These berries from a chinaberry tree were often the ammunition for neighborhood kid skirmishes when the fireflies came out at night. I would hide behind something and throw out a handful when an unsuspecting victim passed by, usually the pesky boy next door, .

Now, many, many years later, as I watched the nuthatch defy gravity as it walked up and down the tree trunk, I thought about how fear paralyzes people from enjoying life. My bone-chilling meeting with that long-ago snake had deprived me of a favorite pastime.

But, thankfully, time taught me to fear the snake when it was where I would place my foot, but not to fear it when it wasn’t there. It was a well-learned lesson that gave me many years of freedom in the outdoors and the courage to face the unknown unafraid.

I wonder if that old chinaberry tree still exists, and if a nuthatch ever played in it? (more…)

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