Snakes have been following me for a while now. I swear! I’ve never encountered as many snakes than I had in the past few months.
I like snakes. They’re weird and fascinating to me. In many different traditions, snakes are a symbol of change. I interpret their sighting as an omen of deep, meaningful transformation. These limbless creatures shed their old dead skin to make room for a brand new, more suitable one. I think they teach us to get rid of our old mentalities or patterns or way of thinking or any types of clinging that hold us back, and replace them with others that are more aligned with our true self. They teach us to let go of the past and crawl forward in the present. They teach us to change our perspective and to trust the process.
They’re also a bit scary…
In California, there’s one type of snakes that is venomous and potentially… deadly (though super rarely, I’ve done my research!) and it’s the rattlesnake. They’re recognizable by their little noisy rattle hanging at the tip of their tail and they are everywhere in California! Though, in 4 years of exploring and hiking and being outside, I’ve only seen one before, and he was pretty chill.
It was a beautiful, sunny, warm day in the mountains, where I live. I was out on a little hike on a trail that I walk super often. My little chalet-ish house is literally in the woods, in the mountains so, whenever I just wanna go for a short neighborhood walk, I still have to put on my hiking boots and hit the trails, because there’s no neighborhood. Just trails. And mountains. And trees. (It’s amazing). So, as per usual, I was hiking one of my favorite little loop and was towards the end of it.
I was walking in the very middle of the freshly widened path when I got really caught up in my thoughts. You know that feeling you get when driving and suddenly, you don’t know how you even got to destination, because you were thinking of something else. You were on autopilot. In your head. That’s what it felt at this moment. I vividly remember that I was repeating something I wanted to say, in my head, when I’d arrive home. I was totally immersed in that made up conversation. Though, I was still looking straight down, like I always do, to make sure I wasn’t stepping on something alive. It’s just that my vision was narrowed and hyper focused on my feet, and not my surroundings, because of that conversation I was super involved in, in my head…
So, I was casually hiking whilst being lost in my thoughts, when suddenly, I heard that (frankly, much louder than you’d think) sound absolutely no hiker in California wants to hear : the rattle. If I needed something to get me out of my head, that did it. For sure.
The sequence of events went as such :
1. My heart stopped for a split second.
2. I jumped in the air and screamed a high pitched short squeal.
3. I ran. And swore.
4. I turned around while running and swearing, just to see the face of the object of my sudden panic. (a 2 inches diameter snake whose head was up and ready to use its venomous power).
5. Continued my way swearing and pounding and being extremely wary of every little sound and agitated leaf.
It’s been a little over a week now, so I had time to reflect on all of it, and also, go back there and face my fear of being attacked by one of these reptilian mother earth’s creatures. And, wow, I must say that this snaky encounter taught me more than my jumpy-crude-running-away self would’ve thought. Not only did Bruce (yep, I named him/her) reminded me to continue to go with the flow of my ongoing transformation and to remove even more of that dead metaphorical skin, but he also pushed me clearly into the PRESENT MOMENT.
He rattled at me to get me the F out of my brain and to make me stop imagining things that are NOT REAL and to jump into the present.
It was a clear slap in the face to get me back on track and a clear reminder to appreciate where I am RIGHT NOW. It was a slightly harsh way to propelled me into MINDFULNESS.
If I’d had been mindful and observant and appreciating where I was in that moment, I wouldn't have scared Bruce and he wouldn’t have felt threatened and he wouldn’t have had to scream at me to wake me up.
At least he didn’t bite me.
I like snakes.