Believe It Isn’t So
I’m currently reading the book Wild by Cheryl Strayed for my book club at work. The story is about a woman who lost herself after her Mom died… and then found herself again while hiking the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT). There is a particular paragraph that caught my attention and I wanted to share it with you all. Hopefully it’s ok for me to quote a paragraph from a book — is that legal? Well, hopefully it is, cause here goes…
“It was a deal I’d made with myself months before and the only thing that allowed me to hike alone. I knew that if I allowed fear to overtake me, my journey was doomed. Fear, to a great extent, is born of a story we tell ourselves, and so I chose to tell myself a different story from the one women are told. I decided I was safe. I was strong. I was brave. Nothing could vanquish me. Insisting on this story was a form of mind control, but for the most part, it worked. Every time I heard a sound of unknown origin or felt something horrible cohering in my imagination, I pushed it away. I simply did not let myself become afraid. Fear begets fear. Power begets power. I willed myself to beget power. And it wasn’t long before I actually wasn’t afraid.”
I think that one of the reasons this paragraph caught my attention is that I strongly believe what Cheryl says about fear begets fear and power begets power. It’s along the same lines as a mantra that anyone who knows me well has heard me say repeatedly… what you focus on you get more of. Now while I believe this to be true, it is also true that focusing on the positive while “reality” (often negative) is staring you in the face, is straight-up difficult. It takes an amazing amount of discipline and focus. Now, admittedly, if there is anyone who embodies the definition of discipline and focus, it is a woman who decides to embark on, and completes, an 1100 mile solo hike on the Pacific Crest Trail.
I found this concept fascinating. That she could “decide” to tell herself a different story. One that, in probably more than a few opinions, was less close to “reality” than what presented in front of her each day. There were all kind of disasters that could easily befall her… and yet, she did not allow herself to focus on those possibilities. Now… that does not mean that she didn’t prepare. Admittedly, she did not prepare as well as she could have – but willing herself to “beget power” did not mean that she walked onto the trail with blind faith and a tootsie roll pop. She read ahead… she carefully packed her backpack… she strategically planned her food and water supplies. She planned and then she allowed, or potentially forced her mind, to support her efforts to succeed.
If this woman who is in the wilderness by herself, with bears and snakes, extreme temperatures and elevations, can muster the ability to will herself not to be afraid… then why, my friends, am I unable to go through a single, comparatively luxurious day, without fear and anxiety? What if BART breaks down? What if my presentation doesn’t go well? What if I don’t have enough money to pay the bills this month? What if I’m screwing up my kids and ruining their childhood leading to a life of extensive therapy and rehab? I’m just saying…
Cheryl Strayed was able to drown out the ever-present reality of her surroundings and circumstance, focus on putting one foot in front of the other, and remain strong enough to continue on her journey. Perhaps this is actually what allowed her the ability… the fact that putting one foot in front of the other was the sole focus from moment to moment. What keeps each of us from focusing on the next step? From drowning out the fear and putting one foot in front of the other? It reminds me of a quote by Whitey Durham…
“So don’t be afraid to make mistakes, to stumble and fall, cause most of the time, the greatest rewards come from doing the things that scare you the most. Maybe you’ll get everything you wish for. Maybe you’ll get more than you ever could have imagined. Who knows where life will take you. The road is long and in the end, the journey is the destination.”
So here it is my friends… the challenge for this week — WILL YOURSELF TO BEGET POWER. Focus on your powerful and potential self – all the positive experiences in your world. Notice where you are strong. Notice where you are fortunate. Do not allow your mind to play you… play with your mind!
Love and laughter to you!! ~Rashel