January 29, 2008

THE GIFT OF FEAR: WHAT DID I AVOID ANYWAY?


















I was watching my tivo'd episode of Oprah tonight {yup, sometimes I like her show} and she was talking about the book called The Gift of Fear. The show focused on occasions where people received a feeling, one of doubt or wonder or uneasiness. And this feeling eventually saved them from inherent danger.
The author of "Fear" was talking about how women are taught to be nice and that even if the elevator door opens and the man inside gives us the creeps, we get inside anyway. Because we don't want to be rude. He said that every animal, humans included, receive warnings that danger is looming but no other animal on the planet would willingly climb inside a sound proof iron box with something they perceived as dangerous. Except humans. Female humans in particular. How many of us have done that? I know I have.
Another interesting comment from the show was that men have the ultimate fear that women will laugh at them. Women have the ultimate fear that men will kill them. Sad, but in many cases I have to agree. Although I know Nate would never kill me.
So the show got me thinking about the many times I've had that "feeling" and, as a result, am living to tell the tale.
A few years ago I was training for a marathon. That summer my habit was to run a dark canyon trail around 10pm to avoid the heat of day. I was obsessed about getting in my miles. One night I was at mile marker two when I got a feeling. I was on the trail alone, no music or anything to create distraction, when the hair on the back of my neck suddenly stood up on end without explanation. I took a few more steps when it became nearly impossible to ignore. I knew I had to turn around. I fought it a bit longer because I wanted to get in my six miles but at some point I turned around. Once I did turn around I realized that wasn't enough to chase away the feeling because I had the undeniable instinct to run at full speed back to the car. Which I did. Sprinting back 2 miles to the car normally would have worn me out, but the adrenaline and cat-like sense of high-alert sent me careening down the trail at full speed. When I reached my car and locked the door behind me the feeling finally vanished.
What did I avoid on the trail that night? Have you ever had a feeling like that? Sometimes I still wonder what was up that trail that I narrowly missed because I reacted to the feeling I had.

6 comments:

Kym said...

You just left me with goose bumps. I got all scared reading your story and thinking of what could have happened to you had you continued down that path.

Ruth said...

okay, um, that scared me.

Anonymous said...

So happy you paid close attention to your intuition. I call it a sixth-sense. Pay attention to how I am now able to leave comments. Happiness is learning something new everyday. Tell Nate hello for us.

lori said...

Tonia..oooh, I just got the chills! Please dont run at night by yourself. Speaking of fear, i hate not having any neighbors close by. You need to come visit me. By the way, interesting things happened after we moved in and it involves sewage..lots of it. Stop by!

amber said...

I totally agree about the sixth sense thing, we really do have it. no more running at 10pm, that's just a big no-no!

ali said...

Way to follow your instincts! So happy you're such a good runner. I probably wouldn't have made it to my car.

I saw an Oprah show on this a looong time ago. Every time I start to get scared and then begin to talk myself out of it I wonder if I am repressing my natural gift of fear. And then I go right back to being scared.