The other day I went for a hike in my backyard. I was traveling along what remains of an old dirt road that follows the creek, through the willows, into a narrow canyon the top of which was my destination.
I rounded a corner and there, as fresh as fresh could be, were these:
For my city dwelling readers, these are mountain lion tracks. Big feet. Big cat.
I kept to my path. I told myself that I always travel in mountain lion country as soon as I leave my fenced yard.
This is not an exaggeration.
Anyway, the hair on the back of my neck was standing up. My heart rate tripled. My legs became shaky. I made myself dizzy swinging my head around looking for danger behind every bush, branch, and boulder. I was in the woods, literally and figuratively; my sense of impending doom slowing my every step.
I imagined worst-case scenarios. I questioned whether or not Elvis would leave my half-eaten side to run for help if I were to be attacked. I wondered if I would let the cat go in peace if she had Elvis trapped between her jaws.
After trying and failing to convince myself that we were safe. I turned around.
I firmly believe that I am alive today because I listen to and act upon my intuitive sense of impending doom. If you’ve ever traveled in mountain lion country, you just know when there is a kitty nearby.
I continued my hike in an area that was more open, in the clear, away from the creek – the drinking hole. I began to relax; my breathing and heart rate returned to normal; I thought that I was out of danger and that everything would be okay.
Then, I rounded a corner and came upon more tracks; same cat, only this time there were kitten tracks next to them.
When I got back home and was safe and secure inside of my house, some chamomile and indica coursing through my veins, I realized that I had been totally terrified.
And super exhilarated. I love me a mountain lion. I love being in a place that is so wild that I might actually get eaten. That feeling of holy terror is fun.
At least in the aftermath.
Now, let’s compare that to the holy terror I am feeling as I wake up and read the news today.
The Impeachment news.
Because I am terrified.
My sense of impending doom is off the charts.
Our democracy is me, in the woods, being stalked, in imminent danger, not knowing where the attack will come from or if I will survive it.
This heart-pounding fear is what I experienced in November. The election was the thing that made my heart race, made me plea to the powers that be to get out of the danger zone intact.
We won the election. I breathed a sigh of relief; there was a collective sigh of relief. We turned away from the direction in which we were heading and made a better choice; a choice to remain safe in our democracy. A choice of self-preservation.
I thought we were out of the woods.
Then, we rounded a corner and more tracks, more threats, more reasons to feel utterly panicked. Only we can’t turn tail and run home to safety; we have to fight the beast.
The solace I felt after the election allowed me to sleep at night, my stress-zits cleared up, my legs stopped quivering. I was filled with hope and elation.
The fear I am experiencing around this Impeachment (and I say “this” because, well, you know, we have to differentiate) is the same as then, but currently even more consuming because the results of this one will again determine if our democracy will remain alive and kicking or if it will be charged, pounced upon, chowed down on, and left to bleed out somewhere along the trail.
With none of the exhilaration I feel when being watched by a big cat.
Our democracy and lives are totally dependent on the outcome of this trial. When I hike, I am choosing the risk, the potential danger, the heart-pounding, wobbly-legged, fight or flight response. It’s thrilling.
Give me eaten-by-wild-animal over eaten-by-politician any day.