Mark Twain said, “The fear of death follows from the fear of life. A man who lives fully is prepared to die at any time.”
On my first trip to Alaska as a young adventure-seeker at 24, I woke up in my tent on the Russian River of the Kenai Peninsula hearing a “Grumph, grumph, emph” outside my tent. The Russian River enjoys fame not only for its salmon fishing, but also, its 1,000-pound grizzly bears. They visit the river to feed on millions of salmon racing for the spawning grounds.
I shot upright with a chill ripping down my spine. My brother Rex slept in his tent about 10 feet from mine. All night, I swatted no-see-ums, a tiny biting fly, but the bear posed greater danger. I opened my front flap to see an enormous grizzly looking right at me, not three feet away. As the breeze shifted, I smelled the worst case of halitosis in my life. He stunk worse than a barnyard.
He looked at me and I looked at him. My heart jumped out of my chest from beating so fast. My mouth dried up like a cotton ball in the desert. Strangest feeling I ever experienced!
That bear could kill me in minutes. I wouldn’t stand a chance.
Within 15 seconds, he ambled around the side of my tent. As he passed by the sidewalls, he rubbed his muzzle and drooled across the bright orange nylon. The sun shone through the tent to accent the drool-line about three feet long. Seconds later, he grunted some more and started digging at the corner of my tent. I looked back to see his claws rip through the nylon and hit the blue plastic flooring.
My eyes grew wide as I stared at the four-inch claws cutting through my tent. Seconds later, he withdrew them. He walked around my tent to walk right back in front of me. A moment later, he turned toward the Russian River to grab a mouthful of fresh salmon.
My brother Rex said, “Are we gonna’ live or die? What’s the verdict, bro?”
“Could go either way if he doesn’t catch any fish,” I said. “I think I just stared death in the face.”
Like everything in life, random chance may kill you, let you live or hurt you—depending on the circumstances. That morning, which remains vividly with me to this day, could have turned out ugly. We could have been written up in the Anchorage morning newspaper: “Two campers were mauled to death while sleeping near the Russian River yesterday. The bear grabbed one brother and then the other. He gobbled them like a can of sardines. Other campers heard the screams, but nothing could stop the bear from his morning breakfast feast. Services will be held….”
But instead, it wasn’t our day to die.
Since my early 20s, through my adventures on six continents—hurricanes, tsunamis, 7.3 earthquakes, 350-pound charging seals in the Galapagos, scuba diving with sharks, mountain climbing, bicycle riding with cars coming up my rear at 70 miles per hour as their drivers text message, Australian bush fires, rip-tides, monkeys raining their feces down on me in the Amazon, moose and grizzly bears—so far, they haven’t killed me.
But any of them could have killed me.
Should anyone be afraid of dying on an adventure?
Not on your life! Act like a winner. Accept danger. Agree to the unknown and life on its own terms. Go for it. Never worry about living or dying. Keep moving ahead. Think positive to bring all good to you.
“Let children walk with nature, let them see the beautiful blendings and communions of life and death, their joyous inseparable unity, as taught in woods and meadows, plains and mountains and streams of our blessed star, and they will learn that death is stingless indeed, and as beautiful as life.” John Muir
On a sobering daily note, you read about someone dying in a traffic accident coming home from the big game.
You hear of a kid succumbing to cancer. A buddy fell off a ladder. An average of 900 Americans annually die from falling off their bicycles because they didn’t wear a helmet. They cracked their skulls. Some live a short time and others make it a long life. It doesn’t make any difference if you’re rich, poor, smart, stupid, famous or average. I could name hundreds of famous people who died in their 20s, 30s, 40s, 50s or before their time. You may know some dull people living into their 90s. There is no reason or rhyme to any of it. Life happens.
I personally knew a couple that retired after 40 years at the factory. They bought a motor home to travel to Alaska and around the USA to visit 49 state capitals. The morning before their departure date, the husband walked down to the breakfast table. He grabbed the paper. His wife prepared breakfast on the stove. Suddenly, she heard a thud on the table. She looked around to see her husband slumped over—dead. Life and death happen without cause, warning or understanding.
As the saying goes, “Eat dessert first; life is uncertain.”
On a logical note, you can avoid being one of the millions of humans who died but never lived. You can avoid staring into a television most of your life. One researcher reported Americans watch television for a total of 15 years of their lives. Millions of Americans suffer a mid-life crisis because they failed to live their dreams or they never discovered their life purpose.
Get your butt out there into the wind, onto the road, up that mountain, down that river, through the deep powder, under the stars and by that campfire. Live until you die and if you die while you’re living, your spirit will smile all the way through eternity.
Read more posts by Frosty Wooldridge here. Frosty is a blogger for JenningsWire Online Magazine.
The online feature magazine, JenningsWire.com, is created by National PR Firm, Annie Jennings PR that specializes in providing book promotion services to self-published and traditionally published authors. Annie Jennings PR books authors, speakers and experts on major high impact radio talk interview shows, on local, regionally syndicated and national TV shows and on influential online media outlets and in prestigious print magazines and newspapers across the country.