Updated: Jun 21
We are often very uncomfortable with intense negative feelings; those of ourselves and of others. We do not know how to handle it. Some suggest that we ignore our feelings. Some are told to just suppress it. Other kind souls hint that we can distract it, thinking that it will go away. But I think that feelings are signposts to our longings. Ignore it! You might get lost. Suppress it! You might explode and hurt yourself and others around you along the way. Distract it! It returns with a vengeance. Embrace it, and treasures are yours to mine.
I was attending a conference in Colorado Springs, USA. A friend hosted my family in his beautiful home just south of the Ute Valley Park. The scenery from the house was gorgeous and the majestic mountains in the distance looked not bigger than my pinky. The air was crisp. Beautiful sunshine and clear blue sky. Everything in me was shouting "Come out and play! Let's go for a run!"
I put on my jogging shoes and told my wife Jacqueline that I am going out for a jog. I did not have a watch nor my phone with me. This was in those days when data mobile and google maps were still in their infancy. Besides, I trust my soldier instinct. I have an internal compass in my brain. I had never gotten lost. Besides, it's just a park. How lost can I get?
The sun sets later during summer. About 8pm during June, I went out jogging at 5pm thinking that I will be home by 6. I should have plenty of time before night falls.
Colorado Springs is about 6,035 feet above sea level. The highest mountain, Pikes Peak stands at 14,115 feet. Jogging at such an altitude was a brand new experience for lowland urbanites like me from Singapore. I did not know that jogging at such an altitude would be so difficult. The hills grew bigger as I approached the hiking tracks. The jogging track I took soon became steep climbs and there were many turns along the path. Before long, I lost my orientation. It was very unlike jogging along East Coast Beach in Singapore or Swan Lake in Ecopark (Vietnam).
I was alone with no communication device with me. Black bears were spotted usually during summer in this region. Less common in parks near build-up areas but not impossible. A black bear did walk the grounds of my friend's house searching for food. Yes, deers and bunnies too. While Black bear attacks are rare, however, unfortunate fatal incidents do happen.
I was lost and too far away to backtrack. I was worried. I was exhausted. My heart was pounding harder than ever. I was dehydrated. I didn't know how long I was in the forest. I could see that the sun was setting. It was getting cool. Temperature drops drastically in the Colorado plateau. I was not dressed adequately. I was not sure if my heart was pounding so rapidly because of the exertion or if it was because of the million anxious thoughts that flooded my mind.
I stopped. Took a deep breath. Asked myself some questions? What am I thinking? What am I feeling? Why am I thinking and feeling this way? What are my thoughts telling me? What are my feeling showing me?
I did find my way out and return safely to my friend's house. My wife was worried sick when she saw me. I told her I got lost. I was embarrassed. I never got lost before. But my feelings guided me back. Don't ignore your feelings!
Feelings are signposts to our longings. Ignore it! You might get lost. Suppressed it! You might explode and hurt yourself and others around you along the way. Distract it! It returns with a vengeance. Embrace it, and treasures are yours to mine.