There is something in my tent. I know there is. For two nights now, that soft scratching noise has come from that corner of the tent. That corner just happens to have the supposedly empty stuff sacks the tent was packed in, all jammed inside the largest stuff sack. I look anxiously at the bags. Yes. The sound is definitely coming from there. Wait. Did the bag just move?
Is something trapped inside one of the bags? I did set up quickly, during the rain, just as night was falling. Did a small creature climb into one of the bags, taking shelter from the rain? I didn’t look as I scooped up each bag and dumped it into the largest one. Did I trap a mouse? A frog? Has it been trying to escape for the last 24 hours?
It’s time to go to sleep, but what if the mouse chews its way out during the night? Then, I would have a mouse running over me in the tent. There is no way I can get to sleep if there is a mouse in my tent.
I sit up, put on my shoes, and grab the tent bags. Holding them before me at arm’s length, I rush to the shower building. It is the only place with light now that it is dark. My heart rate matches my rapid steps. I carefully drop the collection of bags in the pool of light outside the building.
OK. Now I need to open the bags and check for a creature. I glance to the side and see a stick next to the path. Good. Using that, I won’t have to get my hands close to the potential Thing.
With two fingers from each hand, I open the draw cord on the largest bag, gingerly grip the bottom of the bag, and dump its contents out. Four smaller stuff sacks fall to the ground. Looking inside the bag I am still holding, I insert the stick and push out the side walls, ensuring a clear view of all the potential hiding places in the bag. My heart thuds in my chest, but this bag is empty.
One by one, I pick up the remaining bags and use the stick to carefully examine each bag. My breathing becomes faster with each successively empty bag. A careful inspection of the last bag reveals that it, too, is empty.
What? Did I just imagine the whole thing? I gather the bags back into the biggest one, confirming that each is empty. Nope. Nothing there.
When I get back to the tent, I try to settle down to sleep. I have a big day tomorrow. I need my rest. But I am still wound tight as a spring.
Scritch. Scratch. Noises are coming from that same corner of the tent. The corner where I had deposited the confirmed empty bags. Shivering, I reach over and grab the bags, throwing them to the opposite corner of the tent. They land with no strange sound or motion.
Knowing that I need to calm down a bit before I can fall asleep, I grab my Kindle and attempt to read. Less than a paragraph in, quiet shuffling noises come from the now empty, same corner of the tent.
Now, a new mental image springs to mind. Did I set my ground cloth on top of a creature? Did I trap a frog under the tent? There is a big lump in the floor of the tent. I have no idea what it is. I don’t remember any big rocks there. What did I cover in my haste to get out of the rain?
These mental quandaries are more disturbing than if I had just trapped a mouse, so I sit up and put my shoes back on. Exiting the tent, I walk around to the corner with the lump and noises. What is under there? Unstaking that section, I lift up the whole tent, ground cloth and all. I realize I am holding my breath.
I see a spider the size of a quarter nonchalantly moving through the debris. It had thought my tent was a fine hiding place, and it looked like it resented the loss of its cover. Glancing further under the tent, I see that the lump is just a stump that I had not noticed in the dark when I originally set up my tent.
Wow. I had worked myself up over a stump and a spider doing its thing. I had envisioned so many unpleasant scenarios, and my body had reacted in kind. I took a moment and contemplated the power of our thoughts to affect our bodies.
Is there something in your life that you are overreacting to? Some way that your thoughts are negatively impacting your body? Share in the comments below.
*Photo credit: Jayegirl99 (Julie Edgley) on Flickr (Creative Commons)