Welcome to the fourth week of my musings on the unexpected self-care lessons I’ve learned from bugs. Who knew there was so much to say? I guess the little critters have influenced my life in more ways than I would have thought. They can still keep their distance, but I must admit to feeling quite grateful for all their (inadvertent?) teachings.
Today I would love to tell you about the rockslide and the fly. This is probably my most tender bug story.
A couple of summers ago, Paul, Zoe, Oakley and I went on a backpacking trip. We’re talking the kind of backpacking where you carry all your food, shelter, clothes and paraphernalia on your very own back. The way we go about these trips works very well for me. Paul does all the planning and preparation and I show up for the adventure.
On this particular expedition, we had to hike in for several hours to get to the backcountry campground somewhere in the middle of the Rocky Mountains. It started out as a lovely day. There were all sorts of people on the trail; we greeted each other in passing, and they marvelled at how great it was that our teenagers were hiking and happy simultaneously. We agreed.
As will happen in the mountains, the lovely sunny day abruptly changed to a downpour. We tried to hike up to what seemed like some shelter to get our raingear out, but quickly realized that we would be drenched before we got there if we waited any longer. Out came the layers and up we went, staying relatively happy, if somewhat damp.
The trek included climbing up switchbacks, crossing a huge meadow and going up into a pass. The rain continued to pour down, drenching everything but our spirits. At this point, it felt like we were the only people in the world. Everyone else had disappeared.
The next leg of the hike was a rocky face that went up, up, up. For those of you familiar with Central Channel Breathing, it’s the only thing that got me through that part. It was intense. Being incredibly fit and loving the outdoors, the kids chatted happily and hiked ahead of us. Zoe adores the rain and Oakley thrives on adventure so they were in their element. Just as we arrived at the top of the pass, at the highest point of the hike, the heavens were severed with sizzling forks of lightning and thunder that made everything reverberate.
That’s when I started to feel not so safe. I mean, we were the tallest things out there. We’d passed the treeline and so if the lightning was going to hit anything, it seemed obvious that we might be it.
The path seemed to veer to the right down a rocky face, so we started descending as quickly as we could. The clouds were black, the thunder continued and I decided I was no longer having fun.
Zoe and Oakley went down ahead of us, on what appeared to be the path, but it soon turned into just a steep incline of rocks and boulders. There was no path to be seen. The footing was unsure and most steps Paul and I took caused rocks and small boulders to start rolling down towards the kids. We had to keep yelling at them to dodge the rockslides we were creating. Then, a couple of people turned up behind us and started sending rocks rolling down in our direction to add to the fun.
With another slice of lightning and a thunder crack a split-second later, I started hyperventilating (which was a new experience for me… how exciting). We still had a long way to go to get off that rock face and what with the elements unleashing their ferocity, I didn’t really want to continue.
Paul helped me get my breathing back to a more steady rate and I had no choice but to continue. This is what happened in my mind:
Me: This is not fun.
Also Me: Nope, it’s not.
Me: It actually really sucks.
Also Me: Yep, it really does.
Me: Okay, well if it’s not fun, what is it?
Also Me: It’s just hard.
Me: Agreed. It’s really hard.
Also Me: Well, that’s okay because I can do hard things.
Me: Yes, I can do hard things. This is just a challenge.
Also Me: So it’s not fun, but it’s a challenge.
Me: Yep, I can live with that.
Also Me: Okay, then keep going.
And down we went, dodging rolling boulders, peering through the downpour, the wind whipping through the mountain pass and the storm storming.
Finally we got to the bottom of that part and this is how I felt.
See? No path whatsoever.
Like a 5 year old on a car trip, I asked how much further and was dismayed to find out that it was still a really long way to the campground. My legs were shaking from all the effort and we still had to make our way down past a waterfall, through another meadow and into a forest.
I really didn’t know if I could do it. I certainly knew I didn’t want to do it. What I wanted to do was cry. And that’s when a little fly landed on my rain jacket, right next to the zipper. Normally, I would have swatted it away, because, you know, 6 foot radius rule for bugs.
I think I was so drained that I just looked at the fly and kept trudging down through the mud, trying to stay on my feet. A little while later, I looked down and the fly was still there. It hadn’t moved. Which is really weird behaviour for a fly, don’t you think? Normally they crawl around and then fly away. This little guy just stayed put on my goretex.
Down, down, down we went, trembling legs and all, and the fly just stayed there. I started to feel strangely comforted by the insect. It almost felt like it was there to see me down the mountain; a little companion keeping me safe until I felt better.
Every time I glanced at the fly, it was still there. We’re talking like at least 10 or 15 minutes. Isn’t that weird? It also felt like my Granny’s presence was with me. She used to have so many flies in her house out in the country in Ontario and the fly felt like her way of letting me know she was with me during this tough time.
It was only when we found flat ground, way down in the valley, that the fly left. By that point, the storm had subsided, and I was feeling better. Isn’t that amazing?
I have never felt fond a fly before or since.
We are never alone.
As I immersed myself in spiritual study over the last 2 decades, I started to understand that there is so much that we can’t see or explain. And when we need it most, there is always support available.
I like to think that I have a spirit team who’s always looking out for me. I communicate with them every day and ask for help when I need it, whether it’s finding a lost item, accessing extra energy for a run or helping guide me into the best decision.
This is very different from how I used to show up. It was all about independence and doing as much as possible by myself. Once I realized that there’s a whole invisible world of support out there that just requires me asking for it, I’ve never felt alone since.
On this occasion, my discomfort and fear were so intense that I didn’t even need to ask. I was sent a little sign of support that made a big difference.
Where can you open up and ask for energetic support this week? Maybe you could use some extra comfort, motivation or energy. Go ahead and ask for it. You have a whole team waiting to help you out. You might even get it through some insects… you never know!
Here are a few more photos from that trip. (Left: the meadow Top Right: the waterfall Bottom Right: the top of the pass on the way back in the sun!)
By the way, on our way back, we found the right path. It didn't involve a rockslide.
Wishing you a week free of rockslides and full of adventure.
With powerful love and grounded courage,
>Creator of Courageous Self-Care
>Lover of mountains and hiking in them
>Proud owner of bug repelling pants, shirt and hat
PS - Our next free Body Awake Yoga class is coming up this Friday. If you’re not yet part of the community, you can register here. Join us for live classes or watch the replays as often as you like.