Monday, November 2, 2009

Facing the Bear

You know the feeling of camping out in the woods, snuggled in your sleeping bag and wool stockings, listening to snoring in the tent on your right and giggling from your left. Your mind wanders to the telltale rip in the trashbag last night, the rip that was made by who-knows-what. It's senseless to worry, they don't have wild animals running loose in national parks. An acorn drops from the tree above, hitting the rainfly with a startling tap and sliding down the side of the tent. You roll over and try to ignore the night noises, wishing you'd brought earplugs. A rustling in the leaves outside camp, and cold fear seizes well as the knowledge that you're freezing and need another blanket - that happens to be in the car on the far side of the  campground. You try not to think about it, avoiding the inevitable. You'll have to get that blanket sometime, just not now. You feel that at all costs you must avoid the bear, wildcat, or whatever lies in wait for you just outside the tent flap.

We all have bears in our life. Bears that creep up in the dark of night and threaten our sleep, sanity, and peace of mind. They are the challenges that make us scrabble for a handhold, breaking out in sweat and thinking it's never going to end. We have bears that become the "elephant in the room", that which haunts our every waking moment and slips greasily around the back of our minds.

For me, it's college algebra. I'm terrible at it, and find myself literally tearing my hair out after an hour or so of staring at an array of  difficult problems that threaten to whip me. I know that I have to study algebra, in fact, I need to get really good at it. I know that I'll have to zip open the tent flap eventually and face the bear head-on...but I keep saying "not quite yet". I dodge the issue: playing piano, tending the garden, messing with my hair, vacuuming my room rather than sit down with a sheet of algebra in front of me. I know that I'm shaking with cold, but I just can't bring myself to face the bear.

I recently faced a different bear, however: the driver's-written-test bear. I studied and studied, felt unsure of myself, and waffled, but thanks to Mom I finally buckled down and took the test. I stepped outside the tent into the crisp, cold air, and right into the embrace of the grizzly. And what do you know, it was only a little chipmunk after all! Now I have my blanket and am much more comfortable without that test hanging over my head.

So, that entire extended metaphor there was to encourage everyone to face your fears and challenges. Life seems so big when you are huddled inside a tent, but sometimes coming out in the open shows you that all those fears are really much smaller than you had anticipated. Maybe there really is a bear lurking around your personal campsite, but if so you have the resources to fight it, and it's better than shivering with dread inside your tent for an entire sleepless night. Now, if you'll excuse me, I need to work on  : )

Best of Wishes,
Abby Rogers

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