Monday, August 17, 2009


Today I spent a fantastic day with my friend Annie driving through the Mt. Rainier National Park. It was a beautiful, sunny day. We stopped many times to take photos to capture a small taste of the experience.

At one stop, I suggested that Annie sit on top of a rock wall with a gorgeous scenic view behind her. She hopped up on the wall and sat down. As I was preparing to take the photo, a little old lady came up behind me and a very loud and shrill voice screeched, "GET DOWN!" at Annie. Her voice was so caustic and abrasive it startled us both.

I looked at the old woman and said, "She's fine."

The woman then snapped, "I sure wouldn't do that!"

She stood very close to me, uncomfortably close actually, as I snapped some photos of Annie.

It gave us both a chuckle. I told Annie, who's much younger than I am, that if I ever get 'that way' as I get older, she has my permission to let me know I'm being... difficult.

As I thought about this woman and her fearful intrusion into our experience, I realized that one person's fear can truly affect everyone they touch. Annie and I agreed that, although she was in no danger of 'falling off' that wall, that it was startling when the woman screeched at her. It was the most dangerous thing about the entire experience!

She had good intentions, but her fear and her sharing of that fear could have been damaging or destructive.

We are responsible for our own emotions. We have a duty to monitor our own reactions to life and not impose those reactions onto others.

I feel a little sorry for that old lady. How many experiences in her life has she missed out on because perfectly safe things seemed dangerous to her? How did she parent her children? Did she instill fear in them, so that they hesitate to fully live their lives?

Fear is powerful and it can alter our life course in limiting and contagious ways.

"Do the thing you fear and the death of fear is certain." Ralph Waldo Emerson

Annie and I up on Mt. Rainier:

Annie just after the encounter with the scared old lady:

Me up on Mt. Rainier: