Sometimes I like to call volcanos “Kingdom Come.” Why? Because when that thing erupts, it’s going to “blow your ass to Kingdom Come!” Is this sarcastic? Oh yea! In the end, I don’t wish ill on anyone, and the last thing I want to see is people harmed from nature, but……..let’s face it; other than safety preparations, when the time comes, there isn’t much you can do to prevent it. I got to thinking how people cope with the idea that nature is truly alive, and may bring harm. It’s not an easy thought process.
One concept I came up with is that Nature itself may help to ease some anxieties over the power, and destructiveness of her ways by masking them with the awe, and spectacular beauty that she is. It’s almost as if Nature sometimes puts the “Jedi Mind Trick” on us, and covers us with warm thoughts, otherwise we may never want to leave the bunker underneath our beds again. It goes like this;
People-“Oh my God, I hope I don’t run into any grizzly bears on my hike!”
Jedi- “Look at the cubs; they’re so cute; you want to hug them.”
People- “Oh no, here comes that hurricane, yikes!
Jedi- “Look at this magnificent satellite picture from space at that Force 5 hurricane spreading out over 250 miles; you can’t take your eyes off it!
People- “I don’t want to go to San Francisco because of earthquakes.”
Jedi- “Look at the view of the bridge as you wade your feet in the Pacific Ocean; enjoy!”
A few years back, I left North America in the summertime to go ski Chile, and Argentina in their winter. One day the ski group hiked up the Pucon volcano which was still smoldering at the top. The tour company provided us with climbing axes and crampons; big metal spikes that attach to your boots for traction. Right before our assent, one of the guides gave the safety lecture. He had us spread out, and practice a “self-arrest.” After the instruction, he yelled “self-arrest” and feeling slightly foolish, we had to drop on flat ground, and pretend to stop our fall. It reminded me of boot camp having to drop “and give me 20.” Anyway, hiking halfway up the volcano, one of the straps for my crampon snapped, and down I went. As you can see from my picture above, it’s a little steep. Suddenly before my self-preservation skills kicked in, I thought; why am I hiking a volcano? Why a live volcano? Why am I not skiing? Why was I the only one to get detention that time junior year….er, ah never mind that one now. Thankfully, the guide’s words came back to me as I hurled down head first at literally “break-neck” speed, I spun around so I was now going down feet first, I rolled over on my stomach, lifted my feet up so not to get them jammed on the crampons and break my legs, and with a few swift motions, grabbed my hiking axe with both hands, hoisted it above my head, raised my neck up as far as I could and then slammed my axe down in front of my chest into the snow. I instantly came to a stop. As I refocused in the dead quiet, all I could see was the beautiful white snow drowning in a gorgeous blue sky. At that moment in time, all I could think of was; “wow, this story is going to make a really cool blog 10 years from now.” (I just made that up! “Oh really Zulu?”) When the sounds of reality began to drown out the beating of my heart, I looked up to see the group who were now clapping, and screaming my name wildly; “Way to go Zulu!! Excellant self-arrest! Nicely done!” Gone was the fear and apprehensiveness of “why did I come out here?” It wasn’t Everest, but it wasn’t the shoe in the back hall I tripped over either.
Should you find yourself in Yellowstone National Park standing in front of “Ol’ Faithful” for a photo snap, try not to recall you’re on top of a massive super-volcano that should it erupt, “may” wipe out the entire human race. Instead, look at the mountains, breath the clean fresh air, embrace how great it is to be outside in nature, and say what the Jedi Master would say;
So what I’m getting from this is to take chances because you never know.
Go hug those bear cubs if you have a chance. Go as fast as you can down a steep vertical slope.
Stand on that volcano even if lava is running down it.
Cat like reflexes Zulu! But really, outstanding post!
Can’t say enough about the beauty of the outdoors.
Just awesome and inspiring.