Sunday, September 19, 2010

What Fear Does

A few weeks ago when I heard noises downstairs at 5 o’clock in the morning, the kind of noises that didn’t sound like that of a child getting a drink of water or the wind blowing through the rafters, but more the kind of noises you hear when someone is in the process of packing your valuables into a bag and making away with them; I froze to the spot.
Well that was the first thing I did. Then I ran downstairs in my pyjamas hoping to take on whatever number of strung out junkies might have been ransacking the place. As I don’t have a great track record in speed, I only managed to get a glimpse of them drive away with anything of value that I ever owned. It was only afterwards that I wondered what the hell I would have done with them, or what they might have done with me, had we had a face to face confrontation. It's a bit like a dog chasing a car. I mean, what would it do if it got it?
So I’ve been thinking about fear, and the fight or flight instinct and what makes people afraid of different things. I didn’t manage to do my Sheela-na-Gigs number (read old blog on that by scrolling through the archives), but if I did learn one thing, it was that now I know the feeling of fear. It’s a bit like the dreads and sweats and dry mouth that I get before going on stage, multiplied by infinity to include your bones melting while you run at full speed towards the danger that is causing all of this to happen.
I imagine fear is easier to deal with when you can see the demon: in this case a bunch of strung out scangers in shell suits. But what when you’re afraid of something that doesn’t have a face, like the fear of death, poverty, failure and all the things that have people tossing and turning at night. Why is it that one person gets into knots about things that another person doesn’t give two hoots about?
I had this friend once who had sleepless nights worrying about not having enough money. He and his wife both had great jobs. They had two cars, two houses, two children and a boat. They weren’t at risk of losing their jobs or anything; it was just the thought of it that kept him awake. The thought that it may sometime actually happen was the worry, not the actual situation. And that man made me realise that most of the things we fear or not things at all, they are notions, the ‘what if’ notion of how everything might fall apart. So at the end of the day, real freedom is about not being afraid, isn’t it?
I began to be proud of the fact that I’ve had the guts to do things a lot of people fear, like not having a real job (I’m a wroiter loike), being openly in a same sex relationship, getting through the week with 200 quid to feed four of us, not owning my house. Ah, I could go on about all the adventures travelling across the globe and shaky money exchanges in Asian countries and all that lark.
I was starting to get cocky about not being afraid of so many things,but then I realised that it's actually all just random. One person fears one thing and another something else, so I started thinking about the things that terrify me. Not burglars.I’ll run downstairs in my 'Hello Kitty' pyjamas to ward off armed masked men any day of the week. But then I remembered the time that there was an intruder in the house that had me bricking it. I remember screaming, sweating, shaking and being stuck to my bed. And I knew that if he ever came back I'd be the very same. Funny thing is, it wasn't one of those crazed burglars, just a little fella: a mouse! 

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