Bears and Crazy People

I would certainly be lying if I were to try and say that the trail doesn’t pass through my mind a million times a day. Whether things are similar or not, my brain seems to find ways to relate them. I imagine it is some sort of new coping mechanism I have developed. For instance, today, I was getting into school to start my long Monday and ran into one of Boston’s infamous “crazy people”. You know that one, the one that yells at everyone and everything that passes by. Crazy, is really not the right word for it, though it is commonly used.  As in everything else in life, I am sure there is more going on than what meets the eye…however, being yelled at and chased is not really something that makes one feel very safe. As I was walking away, headphones on, I grabbed hold of my knife – which I can’t seem to do without anymore.  Call it a security blanket, but it makes me feel more at ease when there are just so many people around. Living in the woods where people are far and few between to being in a city where they are the equivalent to an ant colony is pretty disconcerting.

I was often asked if I was afraid of the black bears I saw on trail.  While I was never foolish enough to walk right up to one, my experiences were pretty favorable. The only time I was ever fearful was a night where I was completely alone, at low elevation in Pennsylvania.  I awoke to a grunt by my ear, certain that it was a black bear examining my camp, I barely slept. Lying awake, clutching my knife, I tried to be as quiet and still as possible. Not as if my little knife could take on a bear. I am not that delusional! Again though, it was a security blanket.

Today, my heart wasn’t beating out of my chest like it was when that bear woke me up on a midsummer’s night. I suppose that is because whenever I am in the city, I am always on alert, glancing around at my surroundings, expecting the unpredictable from a person, at any moment. As I have said before, adjusting is a challenge and in many aspects, I have chosen not to fully adjust. But one of the things I miss are the people and my intuition about them. In the woods, you knew when someone was good people, it was like a 6th sense. You also knew when someone wasn’t – and you knew before the screaming started. Yes, folks, I am being nostalgic – but today, I am not thinking about the views, the fires, the trees…I am thinking about how clear your senses become when your world is stripped down to simple survival – in short, I miss the minimal variables of crazy bears.

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