Monday, February 21, 2011

J'aime celui qui tente l'impossible or Feel the Fear and Do it Anyway!

I have a wee secret to share. 
I'm a little embarassed to mention it actually. 
You will probably laugh. 
I am supposed to be a grown up after all. 

I'm afraid of the dark. 
(There! Now you know!)

Not the dark inside my house. 
I can still manage to function inside during an electricity cut :)
The dark outside.
The intensity of the night shadows in my garden 
pales in comparison to the intensity of my grim fear of them.
Logically I tell myself that there is no dracula, no werewolf 
waiting behind the trees to snare me and drag me away into its lair...

Maybe I've seen too many horror movies. Maybe my imagination is too over active. Whatever the reason, I've never felt comfortable wandering around my own house, or anywhere else for that matter, alone in the dark.

Every time I have ever raced non-stop 24/24, it has always been with a team. Any suggestions of the team splitting to search for a marker at night were always met with virulent objections from the wee blonde thing at the back (mmmmmoi!!). Bad enough it was being the last in line… What if I disappeared, was engulfed in the dark… Never to be seen again??? 

So what made me volunteer to run 21 kilometres through the mud, in the rain and cold, not to mention a little fog, alone last Saturday NIGHT? 

You want the truth?

It wasn't courage. Originally I didn't realise I would be running alone. I thought two of us would be collecting the race trail markers and making sure there were no stragglers on the course. And so it was for 7 kilometres - until the 20k and 46k race split into their respective courses and I veered to the right into the deep, dark forest alone, 20mts behind the last racer on the 1st half of the 46k trail that went directly past my own country cottage. 

My how welcoming that little front door looked…
Never more so!

It was 7.30pm by then and I had been running softly for an hour. The night before had been full moon so the trail should've been lit up plain as day. Were it not for the heavy rain clouds, that would surely have been the case. 

Over hill and dale, aside lake and river, through muddy fields, the bordering thorny thickets scratched insistently at my clothes like witches' claws. No one was behind me. No racers, no markers, no race controllers. The race controllers I had given leave to return to base, the markers from behind me were clutched safely under my arms ready to pass on to another controller at a further control point, I knew not when, nor where. Actually, I did know where, but I was too petrified to stop and look at my map. My headlamp being the only lonely beacon left on the landscape, each time I paused to untie the race markers from the boughs of branches, fences or electrical pylons, I felt like a target. For the next hour it seemed the darkness was pursuing me and gaining on my stumbling body minute by minute.

I could barely feel the rain pelting down my front. The cold of the incoming fog was nothing compared to the cold in my heart. After a particularly gruelling climb the length of a slippery and muddy field where the markers were so far entrenched into the mud I nearly fell trying to pull them out, two glimmering eyes peered out of the darkness at me. With my heart in my mouth - I continued moving forward, muttering to myself as I progressed, "FOR GOODNESS SAKE ANGE! YOU'RE 40 YEARS OLD!!! Joan of Arc lead an army into battle when she was but a girl!"  You can tell we're doing medieval history in homeschooling huh ;-)  "What's your problem??" As I reached the top and the edge of another wood the fox skirted off to the protection of the trees. 

Who's scared of who??

I think that's what liberated me. That poor, scared fox. All of a sudden it was like I had been scared of the 'green pants with no body inside 'em.' (In case you don't know my favourite Dr Seuss story - I've added a little animation video from YouTube below)

Then a whole new world of adventure opened up for me. The countryside I so love by day took on new shapes and forms in the dark. The fog gently enveloped me in her folds and cooled the sweat on my brow. The rain washed away my worry. The trees no longer threatened me with their shadows for those same shadows hid those to whom I was a threat. The darkness behind me was no longer rushing to engulf me, but sinking further behind. There was nothing but the sound of my own breathing in my ears.
My hearfelt congratulations go out to those who continued on for the full 46 kilometres. The last person to finish the course arrived after 3am. I raced into the welcoming light of the Abbaye de Sainte Marie du Desert, and a home made hot soup from my friends the organisers, at 10pm, after only 3.5 hours running (and stopping and running and stopping). No one was left on the first half of the course. That part of the countryside was at peace.

These were the trophies I made for the winners. 
But really, the finisher is the winner.
Next year I want to train and do the whole 46k alone in the dark.
Just to see if I can still win over myself.


  1. is so wonderful to see your beautiful art again...this tale you weaved had my heart racing along...i have felt your fear and have all the same learned to embrace the really can be peaceful and actually quite calming to ones soul...your words are written from the heart of you and i love your final words...everyone who finishes is a winner...words that apply to so many aspects of our daily lives...thank you for sharing your adventure and art with us...much love light and blessings always shining brightly upon you and yours...

    ps...little by little step out into the dark...each night...clear your mind and soak up the beauty that is held above in the deep dark sky!

  2. what a fabulous post Ange, love your epiphany and your new goal, set with the intention of completely conquering your fear. bravo!

  3. You are a brave, brave woman Ange! I think it is a great accomplishment... well done you!!

    Jeanne xx

  4. Oh làlà, Ange, quel courage !! Bravo! C'est magnifique d'arriver à vaincre ainsi sa peur!

    Et c'est tellement bon de voir à nouveau tes créations. J'en suis tellement fan!

    Pleins de bisous

  5. Bravo, Ange! Et bravo, Reynard,pour l'exemple!
    Next year, you'll ace it!

  6. Everybody has their own fears and phobias. You'll soon completely overcome your fear. What you did is one big accomplishment!

  7. well done you! So very, very brave. Sometimes I think I am scared of the dark within - what goes down in the depth of my soul's worries and anxieties, but yes, when we meet them they are not usually as bad. GREAT FOR YOU!

    Thanks for your lovely comments and oh! I am doing a give-away on my blog at the moment in conjunction with my next Journal Your Dreams workshop. Spread the word and join in :) That's where I feel fear - when putting out there and not knowing what will come back, but I have to try it anyway I tell myself :)



  8. Brava! Oh my goodness you are so amazing (and inspiring!)...not quite sure if I would dive into my fears, although I am not quite sure what they are. I do know that I would be very fearful of the pain in my feet for running for so very long!!!
    Thank you for your visit and lovely comment, "don't worry, be happy" has been in my head all day :)
    Are you enjoying your homeschooling? I am always so intrigued with the thought, and tempted...
    Celebrate your victory!

  9. You wouldn't catch me doing that in a pink fit my love! You are my hero!!!!!

    Sorry I haven't been by for so long but I am only now just catching up with everything! The kids are now happily settled into school, we have re-tiled the whole bottom floor of the house after the flood damage and I have also done a wee bit of supply teaching recently. I think I'm ready for another holiday now!!

    Happy Thursday and all the best for a wonderful weekend!

    Love and best wishes


Can't think of a famous quote that says 'communication makes the world go round' so you 'll just have to get my clumsy way of putting it instead ;-) Your comments are precious. Thanks for dropping by!