Monday, December 09, 2013

Monday morsel: the lesser of two bulls?

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."



4 comments:

  1. That is a great example of making choices based on both fear and logic, Jeannie, which happens a lot in life, I think!

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    1. I think so too, Tim. I like how the author distills her experience down to the basics: she had to go one way or the other, she couldn't stand still or put off the choice till she felt more equipped to make it.

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  2. This passage mirrors a lot of the choices I've made in my life. I could feel the fear and shrink back into my safe, comfortable life. Or I could feel the fear and push forward toward my goals. I'll be scared either way, so I might as well go for what I want. :)

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    1. Good thoughts! Thanks for commenting, Sage.

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