A dangerous experiment in overcoming fear
Updated: Mar 14
During my morning hike it started raining and I suddenly remembered a pretty crazy adventure I had some 30 years ago on Mt. Tamalpais in N. California.
At the time I was living on my own in a small house I rented in Mill Valley, CA. I was in the midst of a psychospiritual crisis. I felt that insurmountable obstacles were in my way and that maybe I was not cut out for the spiritual life. I was desperate.
One night I contemplated my relationship to fear. One of my worst fears was - still is - darkness. It occurred to me that I should challenge it. In the middle of the night I put on warm clothes and boots and started hiking up the nearby Mt. Tam. I didn't know the way to the peak but knew there were paths going there.
I don't remember much of the way to the peak, only the fear when I heard rustling in the bushes. The peak was shrouded in fog. I sat there for a while. Then it started raining and I started walking down. The rain got stronger and the path became a stream. I lost my way and found myself walking up the mountain again. Turned around and kept walking down. I was soaked, cold and frightened.
At sunrise I reached the outskirts of Mill Valley. I remember seeing workers emptying containers to the back of a garbage truck. At home I took a long hot shower and went to bed.
Did my fear of darkness disappear? - No. Did I prove to myself that fears couldn't stop me? - Yes. Would I recommend taking such a risk for it? Only to myself, not to anybody else.