Snakes, Sharks, and Ghosts

When I first met my wife I introduced her to hiking.  She'd been on a few short hikes, but not as a serious pursuit.  Hiking is one of my favorite activities and I needed her to enjoy it if we were to spend a lot of time together.  It provides a great deal of my physical exercise, quiet, solitude, and is often a spiritual experience for me.

On our first few hikes together I noticed that she always lagged way behind me.  At first I thought that maybe she was just taking her time and appreciating the scenery, but watching her I noticed that she was walking hesitantly and watching every step.  I laughed and asked "What are you doing?"  "Looking for snakes" she said.

She later went on to tell me that she would like to enjoy hiking but she spent the whole time worrying about snakes.  It was as if she expected a snake to be hiding behind every bush or rock, waiting for her to come passing by.  I explained to her that unless we were hiking in a particularly snaky area, there was no point in worrying.  I typically only saw two or three snakes a year and very rarely were they poisonous.

While fearing snakes is quite natural and can perhaps be beneficial, worrying about them all of the time can ruin a perfectly good hike.

I live near the sea and although I frequently take walks on the beach, I never go into the ocean more than knee-deep.  Recently someone asked me if I surfed or went snorkeling.  I replied that I was afraid of sharks.   It later occured to me that there are only a few shark attacks each year - in the whole world - with millions and millions of people enjoying the water.  I was more likely to die choking on my dinner than from a shark attack.  It was then that I realized that sharks weren't keeping me out of the ocean - ghosts were.

Are there any ghosts in your life?

Zen Presence - Ideas for Meaningful Living


  1. You're right--we are on the same wavelength with our posts!

    I used to be afraid of walking anywhere alone, especially at night. I was pretty sure I would get attacked by a "man from the dark alley." I even considered carrying pepper spray on my bike rides. But then I realized two things: 1. If someone tries to knock someone off of a bicycle going 15 mph, they are going to end up in the hospital, and 2. Just being smart, and aware of my surroundings, is enough.

    We can't completely prevent ever possible bad thing from happening, and I think the media do a lot to lead us to believe that rare, freak things happen a lot more than they do.

  2. I had a fear of people while camping. I guess I saw too many B horror movies. My husband thought it was hysterical when I freaked out on night camping because someone was whistling on the trail. His laughing made me realize how ridiculous my fear was.. especially when there were bears out there... only kidding.

  3. Oh the irony of coming face to face with irrational fears, especially in your situation after you so keenly pointed out the situation to your wife earlier. My one great fear, of the natural world, has been of cockroaches. This came from watching my grandmother check hotel rooms and return keys should she think she found any possible sign of them. To see an adult show fear sticks with a child. I am getting better about roaches, but fortunately they aren't very common here, so it's not often I have to face the situation.