David Novak - I stopped all connection to society for a week and it was my best experience
I used to have a plan for a long time. This was not a kind of plan you are looking forward to. It was not some pleasant experience that you’re planning months ahead, and any time you think of it, you cannot help smiling, because you almost feel the joy of the desired vacation, or activity. This was a goal a real man knows that sooner or later must come around.
My schedule is always very busy. During the weekdays, I run my training company, I take care of my family, I regularly do sport, and I also do my Master’s in mathematics. Still I strive to take enough holidays each year to visit different countries, to discover the beauties of this world, to forget the anxieties of the everyday life and to get closer to my inner values.
This year I happened to read a book, which inspired me to finally face my long-term goal. It was nothing less than to stay in a forest alone for a week, without any phone, computer, or any type of entertainment. My primary aim was to face my fears, and to get closer to myself. I chose the Slovakian mountains for this holiday because it has one of the biggest contiguous and untouched forests in Europe. I prepared all the necessary equipment, tent, sleeping bag, and food, and I set off to the adventure of my life. I was travelling there directly from Prague by train.
The first day and especially the first night were terrible. I almost did not sleep at all. The forest at night is extremely threatening for those who are not used to it. The absence of all the electronic gadgets we are so much used to made it unbelievably difficult to cope with time, and with my own thoughts. The voices were almost shocking, it was cold and wet and the place was extremely uncomfortable even in the tent. I meditated every day for about an hour, which was essential to align my spirit with the very unusual environment. Even though it was a deadly hostile place for a city man like me, it had some amazing beauties. I saw the Milky Way for the very first time in my life.
The second day was better, in the morning after the sun came up I was in a very good mood and full of hope that I can actually survive the expedition. It recharged me with new energies. In the upcoming days I became more and more comfortable in the forest, and I was walking off track about 12-20 kilometers a day. Sometimes I even met some tourists.
The shocking experience happened on the day before the last one, when I got completely lost, and as I did not have navigation, it took me days to find the way back to the train station. But before that I had a breakthrough revelation which now represents my whole self-exploring experience. As I was walking anxiously, trying to find my way, suddenly I heard a strange noise. My instinct led me to follow the source of the voice so I started to go there very attentively. A few seconds later around the source of the noise a huge bear appeared. As it noticed me it howled and in the same moment the blood got frozen in my veins. It might got frightened but it was surely nothing compared to what I really felt. We were watching into each other’s eyes for a few seconds. I knew that from a fight with a 400-kg heavy animal I cannot come out as the winner. I remembered that in this moment, the best solution is not to look into its eyes, and just step backwards, very calmly, without any sudden movement. It was a terribly shocking experience. If you make noise or if you walk in a group, bears usually escape before you would even see them. But now it was merely 50 meters away from me, and if it wanted, it could have reached me in a few seconds; it could have climb trees, rocks, so there was no possible way to escape. It took only a few seconds that from a healthy state of mind I started to evaluate my entire life. A few seconds earlier I was still proud that I have almost accomplished my goal, I enjoyed the nature and I had no idea that the most substantial experience was in front of me. Basically, in the last few days nothing happened compared to this. My life was suddenly up to the benevolence of a bear, and the kindness of the nature. I felt very small, and fragile. All my plans were over, and all my life was squeezed into a few seconds, and the outcome of those seconds decided whether there is a way forward or not.
As I was slowly stepping backwards looking at the ground, I saw from the angles of my eyes that the bear is still standing there and looking at me, most probably it was thinking it over if it’s worth to attack me or just leave the poor guy to escape. Fortunately, the second passed, and I survived. The experience however became a part of my life. I am more conscious, and in the same time I am more grateful for every moment, because I know that even if things go well, a terrible, life changing experience may just be lurking over the door.