I've been reading a fascinating memoir this week: Wild by Cheryl Strayed. When Strayed was 22, her beloved mother died of cancer and her own life fell apart. Four years later she decided to walk the 1100-mile Pacific Crest Trail to deal with her own inner demons -- not realizing she would get a lot more than she bargained for.
In this passage Strayed responds to a frightening encounter with a charging longhorn bull on the trail:
"The thing about hiking the Pacific Crest Trail, the thing that was so profound to me that summer -- and yet also, like most things, so very simple -- was how few choices I had and how often I had to do the thing I least wanted to do. How there was no escape or denial. No numbing it down with a martini or covering it up with a roll in the hay. As I clung to the chaparral that day, attempting to patch up my bleeding finger, terrified by every sound that the bull was coming back, I considered my options. There were only two and they were essentially the same. I could go back in the direction I had come from, or I could go forward in the direction I intended to go. The bull, I acknowledged grimly, could be in either direction, since I hadn't seen where he'd run once I closed my eyes. I could only choose between the bull that would take me back and the bull that would take me forward.
And so I walked on."