*Note: This audio essay first aired on KRCC (Colorado Springs’ NPR affiliate, 91.5 FM) on October 29, 2020. The link to the program is here; the audio file and the text from the essay are below.

It’s Halloween again, so what’re you afraid of?

For me, it used to be the dark. I run in the early morning dark, and about this time last fall when over a couple days I ran right into three animals in the Garden of the Gods – black bear, black skunk, black cat. 

Never wouldda happened in daylight.

The bear happened fast. Big as a sofa, he was just munching scrub oak on the side of the road, and of course – his sheer physical size scared me.

Not long after, I saw a skunk, or worse, a skunk saw me. The stinky super-squirrel balled up, twitched, turned and I thought I was gonna get a full face-blast of his smelliest stuff – I had this moment of total panic, of being the guy who got skunked…but, somehow, thankfully, the skunk ran off. 

The next day I went right past a black cat, and normally I’m not superstitious. But, because the day before I met my bear buddy and skunk friend, I started to rethink that whole bad omen thing.

That’s when it hit me. Darkness is where fear lives. Dark room, dark basement, dark outside – these are the places we run into our black bears, black skunks, black cats – our fears – of physical harm, of embarrassment, and of our worries and anxieties. 

No matter what we do, we can’t avoid them. We’re human. Fear finds us. But we can just keep moving forward, put them behind us, until we realize fear is a choice and not our fate. 

Be good, be well, be ready for wildfire and have a “go” plan to keep your loved ones safe. Until next week, no matter what, climb on.

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