I am not much of a sports fan most of the time, but I do love watching the Olympics, especially the winter games. One of the most thrilling of the winter sports, at least in my view, is the luge. I watch the athlete careen down the luge run at literally, break neck speed, with their legs held out in hair-pin formation. I think to myself, “Holy crap. That’s crazy.” Yes, they wear head protection but those hair-pin legs and arms are covered in space-age stretchy materials. And what about one’s neck? I know that I am not a physical risk taker, but it looks like a pretty dangerous sport major spinal cord injury potential not to mention the orthopedic horrors that could occur. Mostly, what I see on my television screen, however, is highly controlled chaos. These are highly trained athletes at the most elite level. By and large, they love what they do. They are driven to do it, to take the risk, over and over again. I imagine that mastering the luge feels like becoming a force of nature.
I love the mountains, looking at them, and hiking in them. I dreamed a few nights ago that I was driving to the mountains. There was compacted snow on the road. I was driving really fast and following very close. The car was flying along the road. In the dream I had some recognition that the conditions were dangerous but I was determined to make it to the mountains and uncharacteristically non-plussed about conditions. And I was getting to my destination.
This was not a normal anxiety dream for me. Those are the ones I have when “bad guys” are chasing me or when I am stressed about work, my anxiety dreams involve my finding myself, at my current age, back in college or high school, scrambling with my classes. “Oh no. I’ve had a class I forgot to attend all quarter! I must have failed it!” Because I have evolved, the latter dreams end with my realizing that I have a diploma for a Ph.D. Why would I need to be in high school or college?
This was a different dream. It involved anxiety but it also involved a kind of moving forward in life and enjoying it. I was really enjoying myself in the mountains. It was beautiful. And I don’t really think the dream was about my taking dangerous chances or being an Olympic level snow and ice driver. I think this dream reflects how I am coming to deal with the anxiety of my life.
In reality, I am not a very skilled or experienced snow driver. Seattle may be near the mountains but it is a temperate city, at sea level. I entrust the winter driving feats to my husband, who spent his teen and early adult years either living in Eastern Washington or driving back and forth over mountain passes, to visit his parents there. But I am learning how to drive through life, despite its break neck speed, the dangers, the hidden and out in the open.
I am not a person who seeks out danger. I am not a thrill seeker or a reckless person. The mountains can be a beautiful destination. Sometimes the mountains can be barriers to where we want to go. And some of those barriers are K2’s of our own making, towering anxiety without sufficient basis.
I don’t want to live a safe life in my own home. I want to see mountains. I want to enjoy the beauty in my life right now.