Friday, July 12, 2013

On Fear

The unspoken truth about fear is that it doesn’t belong in the realm of truth. If you get down to it not a whole lot really does, but fear is especially distant. If you’re standing in the uppermost room of the uppermost tower in the castle on the uppermost hill of the capital of the Realm of Truth (Population: Six), you can’t quite make it out. It’s past the River of Metaphor, tucked into the woods behind an abandon garage off I-95. Ironically enough, it is located centrally for the rest of us who aren’t graced with the necessary connections to reside in the Realm. Most of us pass it on our morning commute and those who don’t have it waiting at home. It’s never a big deal. Usually just a passing acknowledgement. Like that coworker who you see at the grocery store, but don’t know well enough to stop and chat with, so you wave or nod as you pass by. But you make sure not to slow down so you don’t invite further conversation.

Fear resides there not because it got a sweet deal on the lease (although with it’s credit, I’m sure it can swing a pretty solid rate), but because it needs the space. The woods are cavernous, shadowed from the world in their immensity and without meaningful boundaries. But it may not be what you think. Fear didn’t choose this place because it is dark and reminds us of the nightmares that haunted our young imaginations. In fact, the woods are about as bland a place as you can find in nature. Trees and small animals and the occasional deer, but nothing picturesque. No waterfall or hidden cliff to elicit the feeling of sublime. Just a leaf-filled creek meandering past a quaint house in need of a little repair. No, the woods are its home because fear is a panda. It needs vast swaths of forest to live in and likes to remain largely unseen. You know it there not because you’ve laid eyes upon it yourself. Only a sign and the occasional splash a fur reminds you of its presence. It would have chosen some tundra or even a big chunk of grassland, but it’s hard to find those with DSL-hookup and a convenient interstate nearby.

The unspoken truth about fear is that it is more human than we give it credit for. Ignoring the fact that fear exists only because we allow it to exist, which is honestly an insightful enough comment in itself to provide hours of reflective material, fear is normal. It is not some brooding dragon lurking in a cave with sinister intentions, surrounded by the smoking bones of the weak-willed mortals who saw fit to challenge it. It works a nine to five job, with some odd hours thrown in on the weekends. It shows up to parties and interviews and goes on vacation just like the rest of us. It has learned to live with the world as it changes. Repurposing itself with every new advance, just as we must do from time to time. It has a home and we have learned to live with it, just as we have our noisy neighbor’s dog and the kids who spend all day shouting in the streets.

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