This morning I walked down a forested trail while the sky sprinkled rain and mist clung to the mountains’ hips. The forest was quiet but stirred with noise, and I breathed the quiet sustenance in. I needed this stillness, not because anything disturbed me but because stillness is revitalizing.

Fear used to accompany me on my walks in the woods. My heart would pound, and my nerves would scream, afraid of what might be hiding behind stumps and fallen trees.

This is not so much the case anymore, not that fear can’t roar and catch me off guard because it can, but I’ve found courage and strength that I didn’t use to have.

Even when I saw the warning sign announcing mountain lions in the area, I kept walking. There was no sign announcing bears, at least not one that I noticed, but it’s a given in Western Montana that they are everywhere. Knowing this didn’t detour me either.

Actually, what came to mind was a friend of mine, Don. Don makes fabulous walking sticks, ones that I could reach high into the sky with, make myself bigger than life, just in case I ran into a mountain lion.

I could stand tall and announce myself to the lion, let him know I was to be reckoned with, even if I didn’t feel like it. I’m sure this futuristic-lion would appreciate Don’s amazing sticks.

A bear, on the other hand, most likely wouldn’t give a damn that I carried one of Don’s amazing walking sticks. Not in the slightest. The bear may even take offense. But do I not venture into the woods because of the possibility of running into a bear?

Living life entails risk at any time, with anything that I do. Even the types that are hidden, seemingly secured in neat packages that say, “No risk here.”

There may be more risk in taking a walk downtown than walking on this quiet, empty trail in the wilderness. Sometimes there is more risk staying inside my house alone, with only myself to keep me company.

Living life, despite of the fears that may quake my footing, requires perseverance and faith.

Perseverance, to gather what’s needed to be prepared because it’s beneficial to know what to do if I cross paths with a bear, a mountain lion, or a driver that doesn’t stop for pedestrians. Even knowing how I can change into a negative, self-annihilating woman when left alone for too long is beneficial.

Faith helps me step into action, despite the risks, because, the truth is, the outcomes of my life are none of my business. My business lies in experiencing this life. When I lay my head down and expel my last breath, I can die without regret from inaction.

I spent many years wasting away with inaction and fear and fantasies of what could be “if only,” which usually meant it was someone else’s responsibility to get me out or change or save me from myself.

So many minutes lost. So many days deluged with negativity and self-annihilation.

Not today. Not anymore. I want to breathe in life until I’m not able, and then I’ll suck one more in for good measure and leave this world knowing little regret but much beauty.

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