Why You May Need to Reclaim Your World
Threats from disasters, and other dangers in the world around us, can lead us to withdraw from normal activity and then we may need to reclaim our world from fear.
I have always loved what I now call the territorial sports: the cross country skiing, running, hiking, bicycling, etc. These are sports that involve navigating through the outdoors. The goal is to cover a fair amount of territory in the process of getting exercise. And an aspect of this kind of exercise is that it helps us to feel much more comfortable and familiar with the world we live in.
However, it wasn’t until the San Francisco earthquake of 1999 that I understood one of the very important functions that these activities can play.
Threats and Disasters Lead to Isolation
One of the problems with disasters is that they can be extremely isolating. We are usually instructed to go home or find some safe place and, almost inevitably, we will turn on the radio or television or some other source of information and stay glued to this program. All of this tends to be very isolating and, especially, takes us away from the outdoors and the real world. In fact, it tends to make us afraid of the outdoors.
I remember watching and listening to stories about looting and the fire burning in the Marina District. We could look out our window and see the flickering ray of lights and that, combined with the stories of looting in downtown, made me wonder what would happen next. Would the mobs head this way?
All night, I had difficulty sleeping, as you will imagine. And of course there were also aftershocks to deal with.
The next morning, I decided, bravely I thought, to go for a run on my longer run which took me to the top of Twin Peaks. From there, I could see the entire city.
That run is one that I will always remember. It transformed my experience. Before it, I was fearful and not sure whether I could trust anything or anyone. After it, as I ran through the familiar terrain and saw familiar people, I felt as if I had reclaimed my sense of home in the neighborhood.
These kinds of experiences remind us that we are animals, social animals, animals that need to be active and engaged in the world, not isolated and fearful.