• Mary Anderson

Hiking and the Busy Brain, Part 2




I know I am not alone in imagining the worst possible scenario when something bad happens. My car breaks down and I expect a big bill. My prescription eye glasses "break" on the trail and I wonder how I will get by without them. My knee is swollen and hurts a lot and I fear I will have to give up the hike.

But it turns out my glasses only needed a new screw to hold the crooked arm in place. My knee feels like it might have 1,350 miles left in it as long as I go slow. My car looks like it can be repaired.


I think of all the times someone has said, "I want to talk to you." Why do I always cringe, waiting to be yelled at for something? Anticipating the future often comes with a sense of dread. I don't like being side-swiped by something I didn't see coming. I prefer to feel in charge and in control.


And yet I realize how little I really do have control over. I don't know if a grizzly will eat me or if lightning will strike me on a ridge. I may get killed crossing a street in town. I have no say in the weather. About the only thing I can begin to control is my reaction to things.

I can try to be kind to someone who drives me nuts, remembering that what bothers me in them is probably a reflection of something inside of me. I can choose to accept the present moment rather than fighting it. I can work to improve something rather than sitting in despair imagining the worst.


Not only am I working on not jumping to the worst possible scenario, I am working on being okay with feeling out of control of external situations. I want to stop living life from a place of hypervigilance and live instead from an internal sense of safety and let what happens, happen


Ironically I was thinking about this when I passed through a field of flowers that was being devoured by beautiful green beetles. Perhaps the plant sent out stress chemicals as it was being devoured, but I doubt it worried about being eaten before the beetles arrived. Every living thing dies at some point, and unpleasant things will happen in all lives. I don't want to waste any more potentially happy times by jumping to the worst possible scenario.

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