There was darkness all around. We were walking ahead, slowly. It was frightening, as we were also feeling our way forward. We had no clue what was possibly coming at us next. The walls, floor and ceiling were all cold, chiseled stone, etched with Egyptian hieroglyphs.
Anubis stood in many locations. These were not just small etchings of the image of Anubis. They were eight-foot-tall monuments. Some were standing alone and others were standing in a cluster of statues. Anubis was the Egyptian god of embalming and the dead. Since jackals were often seen in Egyptian cemeteries, the ancient Egyptians believed that Anubis watched over the dead. As we progressed deeper into the darkness there was little doubt that Anubis had his eye on me.
We were all three frightened. Kilee and Jessi, my two oldest daughters, and I were on this tomb adventure together. I was a grown man. Jessi and Kilee were small, young girls. We stayed close together, shivering, until something happened.
We were walking past a cluster of tall statues of Anubis when one of them reached out and touched my shoulder! It was not my imagination! There was only one thing to do: run! I bolted forward, pushing my daughters to the side, until I saw the light at the end of the tunnel and exited.
When the warmth of the sun hit my face, my terror ended. But, it didn’t bring an end to my ordeal. Thirteen-year-old Jessi and eleven-year-old Kilee have never let me forget that when fear struck, I struck out. This little adventure has given us a lifetime of laughter (at my well-deserved expense!). We’ve howled and howled about how a Hollywood-styled-and-created-tomb showed us who I really am inside. A wimp! Yet, this charming and endearing experience has proven to deliver a real, enduring lesson as well.
All of us, every one, walk ahead in life, feeling our way forward at times. It can feel frightening because we don’t know what will be coming at us next. We face challenges, changes, and even, at times, Anubis. Because life’s path is not chiseled in stone, it often feels as if we no longer live on dry ground. It feels as if we are living more on the face of a turbulent ocean, where the surface is shifting and swelling constantly. To say the least, it is unsettling, even frightening. Yet, my Hollywood tomb adventure experience taught me that my own assumptions about living in a static environment were the root of personal fear.
The next time I passed through the terrifying tunnel at that same Hollywood-based-theme-park, I expected a dog-based-god would reach out to “get me.” I still didn’t know when it would happen, but I knew it would, so I was prepared. This small amount of increased knowledge and experience acted together to exercise my “courage muscle.” I call it life’s “Anubis Principle.”
Life allows each person to gradually obtain increased knowledge and experience. It allows us to exercise our courage muscles as a natural part of our being. Once we recognize this process as an exercise, for all future challenges and changes, it opens the way for us to enjoy a different, more agreeable life experience. We look forward to the future, anticipate it, and perhaps most importantly, we prepare for it.
Our future will certainly hold times when it appears as if darkness may be all around. It will feel a little creepy. We will need to walk ahead, slowly as if entombed in a deep dark tunnel. It will be unsettling, as we will feel our way forward, since we’ll have little clue as to what is coming next. The walls, floor and ceiling of life will feel like cold, chiseled stone, etched with Egyptian hieroglyphs that we can’t interpret.
An unanticipated, unexpected future is what scares me. Yet, you and I need only be frightened if we haven’t recognized life’s natural process of exercising our courage muscle. By doing so, we can look forward to the future, anticipate it, and prepare ourselves and our loved ones for it.
Can you and I look Anubis in the eye without flinching?
Lynn Butterfield lives in Erda and is a managing broker for a real estate company.