It was in this very field where I met the wolf. Yes, a real wolf. She had huge paws and rusty gray-brown fur. I was upwind; she didn't even know I was there. But she was fast-approaching and I wanted to keep as much distance between us as possible so took a risk and made myself known. It was winter. And cold. Twilight, too. I was distracted by a meteor shower--the very reason I was hiking at that late hour in the first place.
The wolf initially backed off when I approached, but then, she decided to challenge me. As time wore on during the long face off, the darkness closed in around us, giving her the advantage. But I unabashedly continued walking toward her anyway, letting her know I was unafraid. That very confidence is why I'm still alive today....
Eventually, the wolf and I came to a mutual understanding. I was able to make my way across the frozen landscape unfettered, albeit with a wolf-shaped shadow. Believe it or not, I wasn't scared. But I also wasn't scared as I lay awake during a 17-hour surgery to remove a cancerous tumor in my brain, realizing in hour-ten that I'd lost use of half my body. Nor was I frightened when a man who was 80lbs heavier and a foot taller assaulted me in a parking lot. I fought back and managed to give him a black eye. Then, when he tried to get away in a nearby vehicle, I climbed into the backseat and held my arm across his neck, choking him until he relented. I was only 18 when that happened.
Of all the many battles I've fought in my lifetime (and all the many, many scars I have to prove it), love is the most frightening. It's funny how you can be a complete person then meet someone and realize you weren't exactly whole. Pieces of you were somehow missing and you didn't even know it.
Love is scary because you suddenly have something to lose. And, that makes you vulnerable. I don't like feeling vulnerable...do you?
Vulnerability is the reason why I say (and sometimes do) stupid things in love--it's an attempt to cover up my genuine fear. Admitting I'm afraid is as bad as admitting that I've fallen in love. So instead, I make it seem as though I'm unaffected. Aloof. Somehow above it all. Too busy to care. But it's not the truth. The truth is that I'm afraid of love. Cancerous tumors feel like a walk in the park in comparison. Even facing a wolf in the wild seems easier.
Love always happens when you least expect it. I often write about how one must "survive to thrive," but sometimes, we warriors are so used to surviving, we forget about the thriving part. That's where love comes in....
A year ago, I dreamt I met a tiger while in Ireland. The tiger was on my heels, following me. Eventually, he followed me all the way home. It's eerie how I can still hear its paws padding on the brittle fallen leaves that covered the hard ground. In the dream, it was autumn, just like it is now. As I hiked over piles of dry leaves along the trail today, the dream about the tiger came back to me in a flood of memory that washed over my snapping synapses like the tide. I shuddered and a chill ran down my spine right through to the back of my thighs.
Destiny has a way of making us shiver. But Destiny can also make us shine....
The simplified total of my birth date (including the year) becomes a #1010, but my birth month and day simplify to #74. Interestingly, the Year of the Tiger in the Chinese Zodiac includes 1974.
Tyger Tyger burning bright,
In the forests of the night
What immortal hand or eye,
Dare frame thy fearful symmetry?