I have arrived in Ontonagon, Michigan. The fall colors are bursting and the air is crisp. I am wildly excited! Tomorrow I will take up residence in Dan’s Cabin in the Porcupine Mountains Wilderness Park for two weeks. I won’t have electricity or running water, but I’m hoping I can make posts to my blog with a little finagling. We’ll see.
Yesterday morning as I packed up my car I was a petrified mess. A gnawing fear ate at my confidence. Still, I got in the car and drove off in my little yellow bug, waving to my husband as he watched me bump down the driveway, the first minutes of a seventeen hour drive.
Earlier we had sat in the kitchen and talked about my impending adventure. “Why is it,” I asked, “that when we choose a spirited life we rub elbows with our biggest fears?”
Because the closer I got to the departure date for my two-week artist residency in the Porcupine Mountains Wilderness the more anxious I became. I felt like I might die. Seriously. And then we had a little “what-if” conversation that did not necessarily make me feel any better.
I still kind of feel that way, like I’m in some kind of dare-to-live-your-dream-danger-zone, but I’ve also felt utterly blissful. Bliss and fear, hanging out in the back seat of my car, taking turns with my attention. Anyway, now that I’ve completed that long drive I feel better. And that is of course the most dangerous aspect of any adventure, or any day, for that matter. The moment you get in your car.
Life compels us to move past our fears, or rather with them. Of course I couldn’t say, to myself, or to the world, “Well, I decided not to go because it was scary and I thought I might die.” As ludicrous as that sounds, it felt oh so real. I had to say things to myself like, “Hey, you drove across the country and back, you can do this.” Along with, “You are not going to die from this.” Also, “Black bears don’t eat people except for that one time in the Smokies and that was a freak accident.” And I think it might even be a good sign if you are freaking out a little. The mind loves your comfort zone but the body craves the thrill of being alive. The shadow to that thrill is fear, an irrational and kinda crazy thing but also entirely realistic. Because life is fragile. But we musn’t live like it is. Say hello to the paradox.