I’m 37, and I’m still scared of the dark.
Yep. But it didn’t start when I was a child. I loved running through the Midland Park rec field after dark with my bestie without flashlights. I loved camping in a tent alone as a teenager and felt completely safe. I used to be brave, feeling more accepted when enveloped by the cloak of night than the harsh light of day. You may think that’s dark for a kid, but to me, it was so far from that. It was comforting. There was a peace that the night brought.
I became afraid of the dark sixteen years ago. The sound of certain alarms and booms still evokes a fear that I can’t put into words.
I also have dreams of hiking the whole LT, something that will require me to spend nights alone on mountain summits in my backpacking hammock or in shelters that may/may not be empty. In the dark. You’d be surprised at how many times I have planned a solo backpacking trip, only to bail because I chickened out. Fear makes us do some crazy things while preventing us from experiencing some amazing things.
It’s no secret that I’ve had a rough time since Tank passed away this summer. A forced smile and the “book of faces” may suggest otherwise, but it’s been hard. Beyond hard, if I’m being honest, which is difficult for a people-pleaser and someone who doesn’t open up easily to admit. It was as if that loss was the final nudge that tipped the snowball over the edge of the steep mountainside and it hasn’t hit the valley yet to slow down or stop.
Today is my last show for the season. It’s in the shadow of the mountain, the mountain I have found so much solace in these past sixteen years. There was no way I could say no to joining Pumpkin Fest last minute, even though I am low on inventory. I’ll have a view of Equinox. And as I look at this small piece that will be for sale there, it reminds me of my time teaching in Indonesia, the place I headed to sixteen years ago this week.
“The Teacher” is cut and hand-painted from a reclaimed chunk of 4×4. Whittled down to resemble a pencil on steroids, this desk piece holds pens, pencils, crayons, markers, scissors and serves as a paper weight – whatever the modern teacher (I assume) would need in this day and age. I sheepishly admit that I wouldn’t know what the modern teacher needs since I haven’t stepped foot in a traditional classroom to teach since Indonesia.
(“The Teacher” can be personalized. Plenty of room for a teacher’s name to be painted on the side of the pencil.)
Building makes me happy. So happy. Once the shows are done for the season, I typically spend the winter building up inventory for stores and shows for the following year and devising a game plan to build the business. This year will be the same, except I’ll also be doing some much-needed maintenance on myself. Lots of learning.
I have grandiose plans to celebrate alone tomorrow. Hit the trail with my stuffed pack and catch the fall foliage in the valley from the pine line. But…I’m still scared of the dark. And I can’t seem to get over it, no matter how much I have tried. So tomorrow, like so many other days, I will head to the trail alone with my backpack meticulously packed for an overnight hike on the LT, after spending hours pouring over my waterproof trail map and plotting a course that is familiar and exciting and comforting to me, only to return in the same day after logging many, many extra miles to sleep in the safety of my warm bed. And when that happens, I will tell the broken me that it’s ok. Because I know I’m not ready, even though I think I am. But one day…one day, I will have the courage once again to sleep in the shadow of the mountain.
Courage doesn’t always roar.
Sometimes courage is the quiet voice
at the end of the day saying,
“I will try again tomorrow.”
~Mary Anne Radmacher