This place where I live makes me tough. It makes me push past my fear repeatedly with a desire to lead a normal life, a desire to not be limited by bad roads, animals, accidents.
I have a perfect walking trail right behind my house. On days when the weather cooperates, I happily head out for an hour, knowing that my mind will be clearer and I'll be more relaxed when I come back. My walks took a sinister turn a few years ago when my neighbors' dogs decided I was threatening to their owners as I went to walk around them. Both of the dogs bit me, hard, and I limped home with tears running down my face. I was injured first of all, but I was most upset that my sense of peace had been shattered. It took me awhile to go out alone for a walk. At first, I carried a stick, or sometimes rocks, weapons in both of my hands. Finally, I felt comfortable enough to carry only mace, first clutched into my tight fist at the ready, then tucked into a jacket pocket. I felt comfortable again. This weekend, from inside, we spotted a large coyote standing on the trail and I felt a little crack in my rebuilt confidence. I debated whether to go out today.
But I did. I had to. If we let fear rule our lives, no one would enjoy anything. Nothing would get done. My walk today was a little victory. I clutched my bright orange whistle in my left gloved hand and had the mace readily accessible to the right. I felt alive in the damp, cool air and dull light of January.