Lesson 2: Facing the Darkness
“Be still and know I am God”
The first night in the forest was pitch black; there was no moon! The forest was unfamiliar and I felt strangely out of place, despite my deep love for nature. Below is my journal entry about the first night:
Hunter (my 8 month old Labrador) was very nervous last night. He sat bolt upright, peering into the darkness. I sat facing the warmth of the fire. It reminded me of a book I read by the great naturalist, Ian Player, who often commented how people in the wild of Africa would sit facing and staring into the fire despite the predators lurking in the darkness behind them.
As I reflected, I realised that both Hunter and I were both facing the sources of our own anxiety. His was out there in the darkness somewhere, he could smell or sense it, mine was in my inner darkness. Deep inside I could also smell or sense the danger lurking there.
Hunter fretted and woofed at the outer darkness, I silently hoped and prayed that in the days ahead I would become more aware and that the awareness would bring light to my inner darkness.
As I sat in the black night, I began to realise how courageous anxiety is. I noticed that I would settle at the fire, but as soon as Hunter let out one of his anxious woofs, I was suddenly hyper alert. My anxiety was brooding just below the surface and needed very little to become my dominant emotion.
I also noticed that as soon as I became anxious, my ability to be present and connect or enjoy the forest experience disappeared. As if dealing with my own fear and anxiety wasn’t enough, I was regularly triggered by my anxious companion.
As I write this now, my thoughts naturally drift to two questions:
- What is fear or anxiety stopping / keeping you from, in your life?
- How much of your anxiety are you catching from others? (Those others could be your pet dog, the news or media, your partner, your friends)
I believe these are essential questions that need to be answered. I know intuitively that for me in the forest, if I couldn’t find peace and calm, my journey or experience would be significantly curtailed.
I spent the next 39 days and nights pursuing peace and finding that calm place. Actually, as I reflect, this was almost exclusively a night-time preoccupation, as most of the days were filled with activity and adventure.
The reason for me putting this out as a blog is very simple. Almost everyone I meet and work with has an inevitable encounter with fear and anxiety looming. My hope is to provoke you to face this challenge and work through it. I’m on my journey and making progress, which I intend to share in future blogs. I know you can too.