You read that title correctly… let me explain:
We were on a family vacation last year. It had been a little over a year since I had sustained a serious head injury. I had spent that entire year and then some (and still some) working towards recovery from said injury. Head injuries affect all of you. It’s not like a broken arm or leg where the injury, although awful, is localized to a specific region of the body. It’s a journey of re-establishing how your brain works with the rest of you. Part of my recovery was getting back into running. I’ve always loved to run. I was restricted from doing so for several months, therefore every chance I got to run, I was going to run. The place where we vacationed is a beautiful and rural place. Lots of hills, trees, and a big lake. I went out for a mid-day run and was about 3 miles in… and then I saw it…
I was coming down a semi-flat stretch of road… recovering from a serious hill I had just ascended. I was trying to regain my wind… and as I was concentrating on the workout, something caught my eye. It was in the pine thicket just up ahead and down the road embankment. It couldn’t have been more than 25-30 feet off the road’s edge, but it was hidden within the cover of the edge of the woods. It was crouched down with it’s length parallel to the road. The color was unmistakable. In a moment, I was terrified. I knew if I turned around I was as much a goner as I would be if I kept going. I tried to figure out a way to fight it off when it pounced, but I had nothing with me. Runners don’t want to carry much. I was cussing myself for not grabbing one of those pepper sprays that could strap on to my hand. The irony went through my mind of the fact that I had endured a bad head trauma and come so far only to meet my demise right here… being mauled and eaten by one of nature’s most fearsome predators.
I was frozen in pace. The only thing keeping me going was pure adrenaline. I couldn’t have changed pace, stopped, or sped up if I wanted to. I was at the mercy of nothing but absolute terror.
Then… I came upon it… and I only glanced a little towards it. I didn’t want to make if feel threatened and thought that if I just kept going and kept to myself, I may survive. I guess it was kind of like that thing you do when you don’t look at others in the attempt to slip past them without them taking notice of you. I knew this was folly but it was the only thing I could think to do.
I came right along side of this monster… in my periphery, all I could tell was that it was huge and it ready to pounce.
I passed it… which scared me more… because now it was in my blind spot and it was behind me… just like a predator would want.
There it goes!
It came bursting out of the edge of the treeline and made straight for me! I became like a cartoon character and jumped involuntarily, running on thin air for a good distance. When My feet finally hit the ground, I was keeping pace with the Indy 500. I’m pretty sure I was going fast enough that I saw the beginnings of a wormhole developing in front of me… and then I glanced over my shoulder… I saw the horrible creature that had given me chase. It had stopped after about 20 feet. It sat there in the grass… just minding its own business.
I stopped running and looked back at where the Cougar had waited and only then did I discover that it was a large rock that had the same color and shape as a Mountain Lion.
I checked my underpants to ensure that I was clean enough to continue my run and then chuckled at myself and continued on, heart still pounding.
Why tell this story?
Because many times in life, we treat completely harmless situations just like this due to our own paranoia and insecurities. Things are not usually nearly as dangerous or ominous as we make them out to be in our imaginations. People who struggle with insecurity or paranoia have a tendency to make much more out of situations than they warrant. Ever since my injury, my issues along these lines have magnified. But I have to remember that.
Most of the issues we see as predatory beasts are nothing but misunderstandings or bad assumptions. We would do well to stop and think through everything and compare it to what makes the most sense.
I hope this made you laugh a little, but I also hope it gives you something to think about.
Image taken from: https://americanexpedition.us/learn-about-wildlife/mountain-lion-facts-trivia-information-and-photos/