Last summer, whilst out running in the woods, I headed towards a path I tend to feel wary of. It was a gloriously warm summer morning, and as I ran along the sunlit-dappled path, I became mindful of looking out for Adders. Now I used to be terrified of snakes as a child; and even as an adult, I’m really not that fond of them.
Despite my fear and dislike, I have never seen a snake anywhere other than behind a plate of glass at the zoo: a sanitised, safe environment – perhaps not so much for my benefit – as for the snakes themselves.
I reflected upon this as I left the woods and entered an open space, that the fear I have of meeting a snake on my own well-travelled path, has little basis. Why must I place the emotion of fear into a situation I have never encountered, and may never face? Surely it would be better to experience the fear and react accordingly if need be?
As much as I love being amongst woodland, I do tend to run a bit faster in the areas where I am likely to encounter an Adder. This might knock a couple of seconds off my time, but if I run too fast, I may miss the beauty all around me - even that of the adder itself.
To confront a fear allows us to learn something deeper about ourselves. If we permit the fear to control our decisions on, say, which paths to take in our life, we restrict our choices, and may inhibit our own growth. Although it might feel easier to avoid anything scary or unknown in order to protect and preserve – to sanitise – our comfort zones, these seemingly easy decisions can prevent us from learning more about ourselves, and forming a deeper connection within.
By facing our fears, we can begin to open up to what it is that has influenced our decisions and perceptions. If we fully experience our fear, we can then see the beauty of our deeper selves, learn as we conquer our fear, and evolve on a spiritual level.
So look for your own strength and courage in your heart, and allow the light within you to be the sun dappling upon your path less travelled.