I had a life changing walk during the fall 2021, at a time when I felt a strong fear of making mistakes. On Saturday, 18th of September, I made two huge mistakes, which surprisingly changed my relationship with making mistakes.
From Friday to Sunday, I was in a silent and writing retreat at a lovely old village school in the middle of Finnish countryside, or wilderness, you may say. When arriving on Friday, I was allowed to choose a room from three options. Two of them were on a shadow side and I could feel how my body shrank when checking if one of them was right for me. Third one was on a bright side, and the view out the window was uplifting. Light was calling me in. I made it my home.
On Saturday morning, for a writing assignment we went outside to find something in nature that spoke to us. A plant, a stone, a tree, whatever. I had heard that if I took the road to the left, on the highest point of the road there would be a beautiful, open field on both sides of the road. I went there and had a meaningful discussion with a flower on the side of the road.
When turning back, I decided to still walk a little in the other direction, instead of going back to the retreat site. I saw a crossroads and a sign of Mountain Lake Road. The name of the road was fascinating. There was a barrier at the beginning of the road. The forest on both sides of the road looked dark and menacing. I could sense a threat in my body. However, I decided to get around the barrier. I wanted to see the mountain lake.
A Life Changing Walk
While walking down the road, I still wondered if it made sense to move on towards something that felt menacing. When I saw a gorgeous carpet of moss under tall, dark spruce trees, I thought you can find something beautiful out of something threatening. I took some pictures, and continued walking. When I then checked from Google Maps how far the lake was, I realised it was too far, and I would miss the prayer time if I went there and back.
Suddenly I heard a voice. “Tumps”. A moose, I thought. I peeked to see if I could see it. I didn’t. I took my notebook and wrote down a thought that popped into my mind about the flower I saw before. “Tumps” again. I wondered how big the moose might be. I felt fascinated to see it and considered stepping out to the forest and walking to see it from the place where I thought the voice came from. It felt too challenging, so I decided to walk back up the road.
Then I saw it, or her, I feel, on the left side of the road. She had a round, brown back and butt, and a coat of fur that looked so thick, soft, and slightly lumpy. Only two meters from me, having her back to me there was a bear rumbling something. She turned her head to look at me.
I started running as fast as I could and hoped that she would not run after me and catch me as prey. One of the first thoughts I had was that I need to take a picture, otherwise nobody would believe me. I did not do it. Then I remembered that if you encounter a bear, you should be as immobile as dead (later I read that one should peacefully walk back, not turn ones back on it and in no case run.) No way, I ran!
She didn’t come after me.
At night, it was hard for me to fall asleep. The thought that was constantly going around my mind was: What if I never recover from this encounter?
What if this fear stays in my body forever?
I tried to read, I tried to write, I tried to listen to music. After trying all this and still feeling exhausted, I said to myself: “Okay, I will go into my body to see how all of this feels in my body.
With the felt sense in my torso area I found out that yeah, fear of making mistakes, this time I didn’t have it. I made two major mistakes: 1) I didn’t stop and turn back when feeling the threat in my body, and 2) after seeing the bear I did exactly the opposite of what you should do in this situation. So the truth was that I made two major mistakes. And I survived! For an odd reason I could sense a huge release in my body. And fell asleep.
A Life Changing Walk Was Not a Mistake
The following day, when eating lunch, I suddenly heard the music (there was always peaceful background music during eating times) calling me to dance and move. I let my body move the way it wanted. My head started to turn over my shoulder to look back, turning my upper body, as well.
I did it again
for both sides
and I realized I was the bear
in her own space watching a passer-by
not getting nervous, as I sometimes do
“Aah, a human,”
and continued eating.
The first lessons from her were:
Take the space that belongs to you.
Don’t push yourself back to the darkness when you are called to come into light.
Appreciate your body wisdom much more than you currently do.
This embodied bear has continued to talk to me by encouraging me to find clear boundaries and keep them, and to concentrate on my own task, not letting others disturb me. I can feel her strength in me, and am really grateful for her coming into my life, not necessarily wanting to meet her or any of her classmates again.
I also feel that it was not actually a mistake to take that road. It was meant to happen. Someone from heaven knew my adventurous mind, and wanted to give me a life long gift.
Artwork by Maria Hakasalo