Having outlined reasons for my fear in a post earlier in the week, I’ll now tell you how my imagination led me out of the rut that I was in. What I learned is that imagination can be effective in conquering fear because imagination is where the heart expresses its longing.
Fascinated by the Maze, I daydreamed endlessly about it. Imagining myself driving a Jeep over its primitive roads. Watching the sunrise from the top of the mesa. Daring to hike to the weird sandstone fins called the Chocolate Drops. I daydreamed like I had when I was much younger and reading boys adventure made me yearn to one day visit places like Yellowstone and the Grand Canyon and Isle Royale, the wilderness island in Lake Superior that my father told me about visiting.
But this imagination led nowhere because over time I became a more guarded person who thought he couldn’t handle solo travel. I assumed that I would just feel lonely and be unable to adapt to unfamiliar places. Even after I spent a summer in Africa, where I actually adapted quickly and well, any adventuring spirit remained in hibernation for an extended winter. I even forgot that it was there.
Things changed as I got older, however. Time reveals how tiresome self-doubt can be, and how draining and useless it is to be envious and resentful of others who get out and do what you wish you could. You get stronger when you are older and take more chances, and you see how the wall of self-protection that once safeguarded your vulnerabilities has become confining. And everybody resists confinement when they recognize that it has happened to them!
So being more free, I started traveling. I bought camping gear and hit the road — first to Yellowstone, then on to other places like Acadia in Maine, the Smoky Mountains, the Black Hills in South Dakota, and eventually, to Canyonlands. It was when I was researching my first Canyonlands trip that I learned of the Maze. Even then, captivated as I was and after having already faced down some significant travel fears, I still told myself I would never be able to go to such a grueling and hazardous place.
Nonetheless, I imagined doing it. It was a fantasy, but it led me to read guidebooks, study maps, watch videos of the Maze and to correspond with guys who had traveled there. The information made me ask questions. Is it really so impossible? Could I do this thing that I had just read about? Just how unworkable is it to travel to that location, or to see that sight? The Maze stopped seeming so unattainable and finally I saw that what seemed unachievable could actually be achieved.
The fantasy drove me to challenge assumptions and fears. The heart overcame the head’s rigidity and excess of caution. Having become fully open, I discovered that, in fact, there are two ways to take a Jeep into the Maze. While one is definitely treacherous and not to be attempted on one’s own, the second is merely rugged, requiring caution and some planning, but not beyond my abilities.
And that’s the road I’m taking, just as surely as I will be remembering that if you let your imagination go, it can take you where you want – and perhaps need – to be!