The camera sweeps over the mountains to focus on Maria singing at the top of her lungs: "The hills are ali-i-i-ive with the sound of mu-u-usic . . ." I've always wanted to act out that first scene in The Sound of Music, but singing out loud is embarrassing, right? That's what I used to think, anyway.
We were on vacation in the Rocky Mountains when I came up with the bright idea of taking a short walk in the mountains. Alone. Without telling my family. At first it was glorious. I marched up the trail, swinging my arms, feeling just like Maria.
Suddenly, a bunch of rocks fell from above. I dodged them, my heart racing. These were BIG rocks. Only something BIG would have made them tumble downhill. That was when I thought of something else. Something important that I'd forgotten when I'd started this lonely walk.
I was in bear country.
Forget about Winnie the Pooh or Country Bear Jamboree. I'm talking big, mad mama bears protecting their cubs. I'm talking wild bears with claws, hungry after hibernating, ready to feast on me.
Suddenly I didn't feel like Maria at all. This walk by myself had been a stupid idea. Why hadn't I told anybody where I was going? I turned around and began to run back toward the hotel.
As I jogged along the path, I remembered that out in the mountains you're supposed to talk loudly to scare the bears away. It's sort of hard to have a conversation when you're alone, though, so all I could think of was to sing. I sang softly at first, feeling silly. But then another rock fell behind me, and I turned up the volume.
"The hills are ali-i-i-ive with the sound of mu-u-usic!" I bellowed, totally off-key. Might as well scare everything else away along with the bears, I thought.
Halfway back to the hotel I was holding my arms out and waltzing along, just like Maria in the movie. I sang and sang and sang, mostly songs I'd heard in church. Before I knew it, I wasn't scared at all. In fact, I was feeling downright cheerful, even though I had to find my family and tell them what I'd done.
That experience taught me how important it is to sing out loud. The sound of praise drives unseen enemies away. It helps you stop feeling scared. And best of all, it cheers you up–even when you do something stupid like taking a walk out in bear country alone.