A Life Without Fear (is no life at all).
We've been back on the road for the last two weeks, and our camper legs are still adjusting. Our usual poking around in new places has been limited to off-the-beaten-path boondocking sites and a quick day drive through the Grand Tetons and Yellowstone National Park. Pretty good for pandemic-era travel. And also, pretty stressful. As much as we'd hoped that getting back to our normal environment of #camperlife would give us a sense of home, it's a little like coming home and seeing that someone else has been there. Drawers are pulled out. The rug is bunched up funny. You can't remember leaving that window open. Coronavirus is the constant possible intruder that has us second guessing every movement, every gas station stop, and every distant wave from across the river where we are parked.
So we are adventuring differently. We don't explore the local shops, but instead drive down treacherous back roads in National Forests and find coves to eat chili and fall asleep in. We remind ourselves that taking the long way is better than the more crowded convenient way. If you've been following us on our Instagram, we've been taking you along for a lot of those side steps ( @theroughandtumble ).
But then, some things are the same, too. As of this moment, we sit at the top of one of our favorite places in the country in South Dakota. This little pull-off on the Pactola Reservoir stole our hearts the first time we visited Rapid City. We sit on these same rocks and swim in the same part of the isolated beach every year, and it never gets old. We once went out of our way by two hours to ensure that we would make it to "our spot." It comes at a cost, though. As we are not great at learning lessons, we somehow schedule ourselves every year to be here during the big motorcycle gathering called the Sturgis Rally. Every 30-90 seconds, another wave of deep rumble accompanied with an alternating soundtrack of AC/DC and Hank Williams pushes the curtains around our windows and makes us grit out teeth.
This year, it's more than just a little annoyance. We read in an article yesterday that 60% of the Sturgis population did not want the rally to take place this year. But against everyone's better judgment, businesses insisted. Economy over people. It's a common story these days.
Yesterday Scott overheard this conversation:
Person 1: "Hey man, remember that time that guy yelled at you to get on your side of the road, and you said 'No man, YOU get the HELL OFF THE ROAD!"
Person 2: "Yeah, man, that was awesome."
Person 1: "Yeah. Did you hear that they are NOT having (certain rally event band) this year?"
Person 2: "That sucks, man. I wonder why?"
Person 1: "Yeah, I don't know."
Person 2: "Probably just scared."
When Scott reported this back to me, I thought-- yes. Scared. We are all scared. Why is that a bad thing?
I don't know what it's like to ride wild and free on the back of a sweet killer bike with the wind in my face and CCR blaring, but I can see how that feeling could be worth it. Fear, I am learning, is not the bad emotion. Sometimes, just a teaspoon of it a day can actually make an experience sweeter-- the against-all-odds victory over all we thought we couldn't do. Fear is an excellent villain.
But then, it's also an excellent friend. It's the thing that keeps us from dying. A careful ear to it could cause one to not drive over a cliff-- or to wear a mask in public during a global pandemic. Being out of touch with our fear can make us not just unsympathetic to others, but tone deaf to ourselves. Too much of it, and it's time to tell it to take a ride for a while-- but also wear a helmet.
We have another month before we land safely in another isolated house down in Alabama, thanks to some kind hearted friends. In the meantime, we are taking a backpacking trip in South Dakota that we are both a little afraid of, but are pushing aside that fear in favor of trusting our friends who are taking us, and trusting that we have prepared enough. I anticipate at the end of that hike, I am going to be thankful to that fear for making it such an exciting trip. We are shooting a music video & having a photo shoot in Pennsylvania, which due to our fear will be socially distanced and masked. At the end of that, when everyone is still healthy and safe, I will thank my fear for giving us the notification to take every precaution. What a good friend.
Asking someone to live a life without fear is asking one to negate one of their life's co-authors. Not one of us can do it-- and thankfully so. Perhaps if we all spent more time listening to that fear and what it is trying to tell us rather than alchemizing it into anger or indifference, there'd be a bit less need for fear to show up so often.
But that's not where we are right now. Right now, we are sitting at the top of our favorite spot in the middle of a pandemic in South Dakota, and the rumble of fear coming by every 30-90 seconds to remind us to have our masks within reach to the tune of I saw the light, I saw the light...