Sunday, June 13, 2010

Fear Factor

Michael and I took advantage of the first blue-sky day in weeks by paddling down the Bow River.
Early into our canoe we saw a huge beaver swimming up stream towards us. What a gorgeous, well-adapted animal!

We practiced eddy turns and ferries, happily playing with the current until Michael wanted to duck into a small bay on river right. It was a tight turn to fit into the mouth of the bay, manage the current and clear a partially submerged tree. Not making the turn would mean we'd be sideways against the tree. Which would be bad. We had more than enough expertise and skill to successfully dodge the tree, but from where I was in the bow of the canoe, it looked like we were heading right for it.

I freaked out. There's no other way to put it. This weird voice came out of my gut and moaned at Michael to get away from the tree. Then I started to cry and hyperventilate! It took me a few minutes to get a grip. Not normally what I would expect from me. It's been almost 3 years since my accident, and there I was acting as if it were the day after. Circumstances looked similar enough that my body went into fear mode.
Fact is, we were not in danger. It was all in my mind--or my body.

What happened in the boat's got me realizing how powerful fear is. How its radioactivity can work away under the surface of things, hidden, and waiting. I'll be more patient now with clients who say, "We can't do that, we tried that once and it almost killed our company." You can rationalize that these circumstances aren't the same as before, that you aren't at real risk here, and it still won't matter until they've fully felt their fear, had their fit, then recovered their senses.

We spent the rest of the evening floating past incredible scenery, the scent of the wolf willow drifting in and out of notice. We saw an even bigger beaver close to the take out. He was as big as our old retriever Lucy! What a night. From the sublime to the ridiculous to the sublime.

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