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Big Black Snake

The first snake I ever saw was in the middle of a dirt road tire track. He was black and slimy in my opinion, though I learned much later in life that it wasn't slimy at all. He sat there, sinister and shining in the sun, glinting as though it was encrusted with exquisite jewels.

In mid-pedal, I dumped my bike, jumped several feet backwards, and ran for home like it was chasing me. I could practically feel that forked tongue lapping at my heels as I ran. I stepped high, lifting my knees nearly to my chest. At some point, a blood curdling scream escaped from my mouth as I ran the half mile back to the house. By the time I got there, I had morphed that into screams of "Snake! Snake!"

My mother was waiting outside for me when I rounded the corner and leapt over the ditch in one tremendous bound. As I flew through the air, I suddenly realized that there could be any number of snakes in the grass I was about to land in. Just the week before my mother told me about a snake she had run over with the lawn mower over by the wood shed. My feet landed and I sprang straight back into the air, throwing my body wildly over as much ground as I could cover with each leap. I looked like a cross between a gazelle and a baboon, I'm sure. I was a rather lanky 7 year old.

By the time my mother convinced me to walk back down the road with her to retrieve my bike, I had stopped shaking and the sun had stopped shining. The stars began to peek their heads in the darkening horizon. The crickets chirped, telling of the coming evening. I walked slowly, not wanting to face that snake any more at that time than I had the first time I came nose to nose with it. A rabbit bounced across the path in front of us. The birds flitted from tree to tree and the cows grazed in a near by pasture, occasionally calling to one another. Arkansas in the spring was the most beautiful place I had ever seen.

The snake was long gone by the time we got to where my bike rested in the middle of a small mud puddle. I still laugh at myself and how afraid I was of that little snake. I remained terrified of snakes for many years until one day I was face to face with a pet snake belonging to a boy I liked. So completely bent on impressing this boy, I reached out and gingerly took the snake from his hands. I wrapped it around my neck and over my shoulders the way I had seen him do. Then I smiled my most winning, fetching smile for an awkward girl of 12 years old. I was still terrified, but I was too stupid to show it.

At times I have moments of that same type of stupidity. My judgement lapses and when fear tells me NOT to do something, I challenge myself to do it anyway. I've learned a few tricks for doing this, such as convincing myself that when I reach the number 1 counting backwards from 10 I will attack whatever it is I'm afraid of. I've used this method for saying things that needed to be said and I was afraid of saying. I've used this to pick up snakes, hold spiders and tarantulas, ride glass elevators and climb into a VERY tall roller coaster.

This past weekend I tried to do something along these lines and I failed. I'll try it again the next time the opportunity presents itself - and I'll do it by remembering the big black snake. It's the first time I've failed at this method... and I won't let it happen again.





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