Sunday, September 18, 2011

On Fear

I have been told that I am a person with a disproportionate number of fears, or had as much implied with incredulous looks upon disclosing them to a friend. And yes, I admit it, I am afraid of a relatively large amount of things. As a child these centred on, but were not exclusive to, things that made loud noises.
       My fear of the vacuum cleaner was equaled only by the cat's. The toilet flushing, the bathtub draining - with that high-pitched squealing noise over the last few cup fulls - the hair dryer noise and the sound of a car back firing; which had me assuming someone in our quiet neighborhood had been shot, were all unconquerable fears. But oh! Most torturous chore assigned me! The closing of the garage door. The thunderous sound, projecting out into the silent dark, made me feel like that 'fool of a Took' who awoke the drums in the deep. All of these noises seemed to provide ample opportunity for someone to sneak up behind me and do grievous harm, of what kind I never let my imagination stray too far into. Under the cover of noise the terrible multitudes would materialise in all their malicious intent.
      But I have moved on to some extent from these fears (I still cannot be in the room while the bathtub drains and I am sure if garage door duty was again mine I would elicit a considerable shudder as the great metal door rolled down) and now fear things which more befit an adult. As Francis Bacon surmised; 'Men fear death as children fear to go in the dark and as that natural fear in children is increased with tales, so too is the other'. And I would say much of my more current fears are ones which relate to my, or those closest's mortality. For instance I always check the stove is off twice before bed because I have been told that smoke inhaled in sleep will not wake you up. No! Quite the opposite in fact, causing one to burn up very much alive, but unable to take any action.
      Movies provide me more than enough fodder for fear, with no need to stray into the realm of the real, as I, unlike most of my male friends, have a reduced ability to identify fact from fiction. So I avoid horror movies at just about any cost and can think of nothing worse than being forced to watch scary movies for a day. I believe it was Michel de Montaigne, the inventor of the essay, who first wrote; 'The thing I fear most is fear itself'. And I really do too, I reserve a considerable amount of energy for fearing I will be afraid. You may think this diminishes the other fears, but really it is more of an expression of just how seriously I take them.
      From a more positive point of view, my imagination must be considerably disproportionate to support such terror. Indeed I wonder how many other children actually believed the lights in their vision from staring too long at a naked light bulb were fairies dancing across their walls - I would say relatively few.
      Mark Twain once said that 'courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear - not the absence of fear'. From which I will deduce that I , with my many fears, have a greater capacity for courage than the average person. And so, with this in mind, I will now courageously scrape the dead spider I brutally murdered in fear yesterday off my wall and continue to avoid the sound of the bathtub draining.

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