I'd also gotten up close to wildlife that week. I took a daily stroll down the half-mile drive from the cabin to the main road, cutting through a grazing pasture. I walked at a brisk pace, spurred on by the chill in the morning air. About a dozen cows grazed on either side of the long driveway. As I approached them, I slowed down. Involuntarily. Fear was a life-long habit. At least here on retreat, I was at a perfect venue to investigate my fear. I walked a couple of hesitant steps. A calf looked up at me, then ambled closer to its mother. (My apologies to the cows for being presumptuous about their relationship.) I thought the little one was cute, until its mother looked up at me, too. I stopped. I noticed a very slight twinge in my knees. The bigger cow squared herself to the drive, although she remained several yards away. I breathed deeply. The knee twinge dissipated. I resumed walking. Further ahead, cows were lying on both sides of the drive, close enough for me to touch. My knees got very fluttery. I turned to go back. But other cows had closed in on the driveway behind me. Not exactly on the driveway, but they would definitely breathe on me if I walked past. My knees wobbled, but I took a step toward the cabin. My knees buckled, so I stood there and felt my fear, until the cows got bored and wandered off. And when they left, so did the all the symptoms in my knees.
I was grateful for the opportunity to see fear so clearly. To notice how it rose and fell and passed away, like all things in life. I got to see how judgments piled on top of anxiety can spiral you into panic. Maybe I'll take this as a starting point, to accept my whole self once and for all. Yes, I think from now on, I'll practice compassion for my fear.
Oh yeah, and a side note to my knees: Are you nuts? You wasted my time on cows? There were bobcats out there!
(Read Cow Epiphany #1)