Saturday, October 13, 2012

Episode 18: Fear

In the light of the upcoming commercial holiday, what makes one scared? Scary movies, haunted houses, creepy crawlies, or the dark hallway? I have spent many a night on the road wondering if I'd make it- "what if a gigantic animal decides to feast on me tonight?" "what if I simply freeze to death?" "what happens when I see the bogeyman?" Can't go running to mom and dad's room anymore.

I'm focused on survival: I become suddenly aware of my surroundings, my hearing more acute, and time seems to slow down. How do these instincts tap into our spidey senses and allow us the fortune of being spared from foreseeable peril? Answer: our ancestors. They did the same thing before there were automobiles, firearms, grocery stores, homes with running water, sewage, and electricity. We've all been bred to innately be scared when there is a reason to be.

What I wonder on the road is whether other animals sense fear in others. Growing up learning to be tolerant of house dogs that viciously bark but are instinctively weary of strangers to their patch of land, I have been chased by some who pursue out of play and some I'm not so sure would wag their tail if I were slower. But it's all part of that game of life: survival of the fittest. And I happen to have wheels; take that quadrupeds. Though I have yet to be chased uphill or on gravel. That'd be the end of me.

I came upon a book called Beyond Death's Door by Dr. Maurice Rawlings at a garage sale in Wisconsin. Perfect, because I was getting frantic with what I'd do with my time once I finished my current book. It was written in the late 70's when resuscitation techniques became proven and widespread. Dr. Rawlings discussed his documentation of the patients that were pronounced clinically dead and lived to tell the tale, whether pleasantly good or terrifyingly bad. A simple short read for those interested.

Then we have fear of reasonable things- our parent's wrath when we're little when we do something bad, or what happens if one of our love ones gets hurt, or if we fail. Those fears transform us into respecting our elders, respecting nature, and respecting failure. Respect is an essential part of life and why we are largely afraid of things. Or should I say the end goal is to develop respect for what we fear: God, nature, death, life. Which, by the way, is the origin of the term Halloween- All Hallows Eve/All Soul's Day, although it has Irish and Scottish pagan roots. It's a holy day of obligation for you Catholics out there (go to church!).

In other news, this is my 61st day of my bicycle trip, entering New Hampshire, typing this post in a cozy Bed & Breakfast:

Donna & John Andersen
Breakfast on the Connecticut
651 River Road
Lyme, NH 03768

I'll be staying in Lincoln tonight and arrival to Bar Harbor, ME will be Thursday. Some numbers for y'all:
Days: 61
States: 10
Days of Sun: 50
Days of Rain: 10
Days of Snow: 1
Days of Sickness: 4
Rest Days: 23
Mountain Passes: 3
Hikes: 4
Miles travelled: around 4,000
Miles by-
Bike: a lot
Train: 1,400
Car: 120
Days in Tent: 40
Days under Roof: 21
Showers: 28
Laundry: 12
Flat tires: 0
Ounces of gas consumed: 38
Calories burned: 250,000
Books read: 5
Days with Monks: 6
Days with Family: 12

Until next time.

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