Touching the Jaguar: Turning Fear into Power

In 2010 I developed this trend report that predicted the destabilization of our social, political and geographical structures due to a rise in immigration and the refugee crisis. While a fashion university student at the time, I had just returned from living in rural northwest India where I worked at a women’s empowerment NGO. From my vantage point, I saw farm land in extreme drought due to deforestation, the eradication of traditional culture from the emerging presence of western consumerism, and the emotional toll experienced by families who had to send the father to work in the city. And as I read more about the world, I realized the phenomenon I was observing around me were merely manifestation of massive global shifts occurring all over the world.

Now that we’re living and breathing this reality — where we have a “decrease in human interaction and sense of community” — we’re overwhelming consumed by the fear of the unknown. To overcome our fear and turn our apprehension into an asset, I am inspired by a proverb I learned from a recent visit to meet the Achuar indigenous people of the sacred headwaters of the Ecuadorian Amazon. This story was told to me by world-renowned chief economist, author and activist John Perkins.

For the Achuar, the Jaguar is a very sacred animal with rich cultural meaning. It is also a very fierce predator. They believe that when a person comes across a Jaguar in the forest, they must meet its eyes.

This story expresses their belief that when you see something that scares you, you must touch it. If you do, they say you get its power. If you run from it, it will chase you forever.

As we go about our lives, it is necessary that we uncover the ideologies, people and events that trigger our fight, flight or freeze response. What or who makes our heart race, our blood boil or our palms sweaty? By doing so, perhaps we can open ourselves up to a response of higher consciousness: one where we get curious, inquire, and ultimately embrace the things we fear the most.