We had just hiked up to the natural wonder of the Big Four Ice Caves in Washington State, and were trying to find our way home. We decided to continue on another way instead of backtracking back to where we came from… on a road called “Mountain Loop Highway“… which, despite the connotation that it is a “Highway“, is evidently mostly a dirt and gravel road for a very. long. duration. In the middle of nowhere. We had no roaming service, no maps. The road kept going, and going, and going… it seemed like we were getting absolutely nowhere, aside from deeper and deeper into the backwoods.
And I was terrified. Terrified of breaking down and getting stuck in the woods with no-one in sight.
Google now tells me that we would have been driving for over an hour before reaching Darrington (the next town). An hour of not knowing where, exactly, we were driving to. No signs. An hour of carefully avoiding ruts in the dirt road. I’m sure I even cried at one point. I like to know precisely where I am on the map of life, and at that moment in time, I was a broken compass.
But not all was lost. I mean, check out this stunning viewpoint we discovered along the way:
Then, eventually, we arrived. The adorable town of Darrington.
And, happily, we also discovered the delicious Burger Barn which called for a major face-stuffing of greasy eats!
Now that I feel safe (and fed), I can discuss my Instagram caption.
I feel like I’ve stumbled upon a secret that I’m afraid to divulge… to myself. A secret so powerful, that it could alter the way I think and feel – and fear.
Living in fear stunts my ability to grow, yet there I prefer to stay, tucked safely away in my pocket. It’s better here, I tell myself. I can’t get hurt. But I also have a passion to explore – which is completely at odds with tucking myself into pockets. I can’t see the world from a pocket. I can suffocate in a pocket. Safety isn’t always sanity.
I had an experience not too long ago. I was looking through the photos that I chose to display in my home, and noticed something I hadn’t seen before.
Every single photo I chose to display in my home captures a moment where I overcame some sort of fear.
There’s one of me and my daughter on a suspension bridge (I was scared to go on it). There’s one of me in a plane (I’m afraid of flying). There’s one of me and my family in a gondola (c’mon, those things are scary). There’s one of me and my family at the Ice Caves (I was terrified of it collapsing). There was one of me and my husband on a hike (I love hikes but am constantly terrified of encountering a bear).
Perhaps what it really tells you is that I’m afraid of everything. And to that I say: oh definitely! But what it shows me, is that I can – and do – come out of my pocket every now and then. And the results, no matter how miniscule they may seem, are personal achievements for me. A photographic proof of “survival”: not necessarily “survival” of flying, falling, or bear encounters – but a survival of my anxiety.
And so the secret is this: I genuinely find myself through struggles with fear. Fear and anxiety is a reality that I may not be able to escape, but encountering it makes achievement that much sweeter.
Fear creates moments worth hanging on the wall.
– Don’t Fear Dirt Roads: for They Still Lead Somewhere
“Normality is a paved road: It’s comfortable to walk, but no flowers grow on it.”
-Vincent van Gogh
The (paved) drive home