Fear of the dark is a psychological phenomenon that I associate with small children being afraid of the boogy man coming to get them as soon as the lights go out – a phase that generally goes away with maturity into adulthood. So you’d think a 23-year-old woman who has lived five years out of home, has travelled overseas and has, though not extensively, done hiking and camping would not be scared of the dark! Last night I discovered how wrong I was.
I don’t exactly know why I was so afraid as Greg and I camped in a timber plantation site on the border of the You Yangs last night. I reckon I got about two to three hours sleep. At the time I thought to myself that the fear I was feeling was absolutely ridiculous. At home I am not afraid of the dark. In year 9, I went hiking with my classmates for an entire week where we carried all our food, water and tents and I wasn’t afraid. But I suppose we were camping perfectly legitimately and there were responsible adults around. Last year at Easter, my housemates and I did a bike ride along the bay from Melbourne to Sorento, camping somewhat illegitimately midway. But I suppose we were a group of seven, not two as was the case with Greg and me last night.
So why was last night so different? Was it the location we were in, a timber plantation of uniform trees all planted in neat rows where the unnaturalness felt eerie? Was it Greg’s twice usage of the word “eerie” with me responding loudly “Yes, thanks Greg!”? Was it the lateness of our arrival at camp, consequently having to cook in the dark? Or was it simply the thought that we weren’t really supposed to be there? Because if that’s it, even if we mostly do “the right thing” like camp at designated camping spots or crash at people’s places, there will be times (like last night) when we won’t have a choice where we camp.
So, how to solve this unnecessary fear? Don’t get me wrong, it is important to be vigilant but when the wind rustles leaves or some harmless creature snaps a twig nearby I need to keep my imagination under control in order to get some sleep. I thought that maybe if I take my sister’s old iPod, I could listen to some soothing music or audio book as I fall asleep. Greg also suggested that we take certain measures when we camp like having capsicum spray on hand, a satellite GPS transceiver (a device which notifies your exact location to emergency authorities anywhere in the world) and/or a phone application that sends your GPS location to friends and family. If there are any other useful suggestions out there, I would be happy to hear them!