Wednesday, August 4, 2010
On a hike in the Dome Wilderness in northern New Mexico yesterday, my friend and I came across mountain lion tracks on the trail. The photo on the right shows both front and back paw prints in the mud near a stream.
Suddenly, a pleasant, leisurely hike became a more anxious one. We both hiked with our heads up, looking around for signs of the lion. However, as my wilderness-savvy friend observed, if the lion was stalking us, we wouldn't see it until it charged. I thanked him for this reassuring thought.
We didn't encounter the lion, as attested by the fact that I'm writing this. But these lion tracks were a reminder that we coexist with the dangers of nature. While we usually see nature as peaceful and bucolic, there is danger in the wild. Mountain lions have to eat just like every other animal, including humans. I'm just glad we weren't dinner for this particular lion!
There is some risk in nearly everything we do. Yet, most of the time we are blissfully unaware of dangers. If we hadn't seen the lion paw prints, we wouldn't have given this danger a second thought. The same goes with driving on a highway, eating in a restaurant or crossing a street. We could die as a result of any of these activities, but we do them anyway.
We need to find a healthy balance between knowing the potential dangers of an activity and not over-inflating these risks. Otherwise, we'll always be looking over our shoulders with anxiety and fear. A little fear is a good thing, but too much restricts life and keeps us from living life to its fullest.