Trail Safe Encounters on the Trail
Our first and most basic response to the intuition e-mail must be avoidance. The second strategy directs us to, if given the choice, exit stage right (or left or front or backwhichever is available). Given my druthers, I will almost always attempt to retreat from a situation. I hate to keep throwing in all these hedge words like "almost," but each potential situation is distinctive. I can tell you my strategic framework, but I can't guarantee that the next situation will absolutely lend itself to retreat. Switching to tactical thinking the second you encounter a violent situation in the real world is thus critical to selecting the best strategy. Retreat remains, however, always in the front of my mind.
Among the reasons we've been focusing on intuition, awareness, and fear lies the fact that these three tools can buy us time. We get a "ding" from our intuition; we ratchet up our awareness; we may well get an additional bulletin from fear . . . we've just bought some time. Instead of walking smack into a situation, we've received an early warning. That extra time allows us to avoid the situation; if we can't avoid, we'll retreat.
I must now point out the distinction between avoidance and retreat in this context. I generally think of avoidance as something that happens very early on in the process, propelled by either my awareness of a potential situation or by one of those intuition e-mails. Retreat, on the other hand, implies that I have crossed some invisible line into a situation: for example, as we discussed in the previous chapter, having a gang set up a rowdy camp next to my serene nest of sleeping bags and propane stoves. Deciding whether you're avoiding or retreating is not something to which you need to allocate precious mental resources; suffice to say that both strategies fall into the category of pre-event management.
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication