Friday, October 9, 2009

Fighting Fear

Yesterday I took the puppy for a 4.5 mile run/walk. With about a mile and a half to go I ran into road work and had to follow the detour sign. In front of me were a middle aged man and his West Highland White Terrier. As I went to run past, Pierce puppy stopped to play with the Westie.

I said hello and made small talk while the dogs played. The man was from England, but has lived here seven years. We talked about dogs, the Public Option, Europe's impending decline, and how Americans are "too trusting." As we were parting ways he yelled across the field, "You know, you better be careful, a man walking his dog could be a serial killer."

I paused for a moment letting that sink in. "Who says that?" was my internal dialogue.

He turned around and yelled over his shoulder, "I'm not, but you never know."

Pierce and I resumed running and I found myself running a little faster.

You must know, I was along a main road with lots of cars going by in a highly populated area. As safe as safe is going to get when you are running/walking a dog by yourself.

It bothered me that I temporarily ran a little faster, that I allowed the him to get to me, allowed fear to seep in.

I'm a trusting person. I believe that there is good in everyone. My instinct is to be courteous and friendly. I live life with an open heart.

For a moment, that fear-mongering man made me question all of that. I thought, "Maybe I am too naive... maybe I should be more guarded..."

Then my brain and heart connected and compromised. I won't be running on that side of the river for a few days, but I am also not going to let the Brit get the better of me, harden my heart... I will still be courteous and friendly and let Pierce stop to socialize with other pups and, if I am uncomfortable at any point, I'll resume our run with nothing but maybe a little wave good-bye.

I was afraid of a lot of things between the age of 10 and 19.

I know that living in fear is no life at all.

I'm taking the pup for a run right now along the banks of the river, over the bridge, past the willows, along the facades of the former mills, past Mr. and Mrs. Mallard (lucky duckies in Love)... Just like we do every day.

Are you fighting any fears today? How do you let go of them?

1 comment:

  1. I think we all fight fears at all times of our lives. Though as we get older, they stop being tangible things (monsters, fires, big dogs) and become more internal and vague things (disillusionment, disrespect, self-deprecation), so they are harder to fight, but also easier to keep below the surface. This guy was toying with your brain in a nasty way, to make you afraid of guys who are perfectly safe who are not people you should be afraid of. Sure, some very small percentage of men could be serial killers, but a very very high percentage of dog walkers of all kinds are very nice and lovely. You have good judgment. Don't let this guy scare you into staying on one side of a river.


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