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Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Fear

Fear does different things to all of us. Some of us like the comfort of drama. We exaggerate the fear, making small things into movies of the week, and large things into swoons of near catatonic panic. By overreacting, we construct a built-in excuse for actually dealing with the situation. We imagine the pain, the threat, the consequences to be just a bit more than we can handle--thereby appeasing our guilt with the consolation that there was simply nothing we could do. Example: I see a bear. I react as though I'm being eaten by a bear, screaming and wailing and looking upward for the bright lights accepting my soul into glory. If I actually do get eaten, I'm prepared. If the bear was actually behind a cage or, you know, just walking by, I at least have a story of how I survived a bear attack. Either way, my fate is determined for me. I'm not really one of those people.

Other people get defensive. We see the threat. We fear the worst, and we take matters into our own hands, no questions asked. We manipulate, we run, we fight, we protect ourselves, caring little if we cause harm to the perceived threat. We accept the collateral damage because it is inflicted according to our own terms. Example: I see a bear. I'm afraid that if he gets too close, it will ruin our friendship. So I start dating a hyena, just to make it unmistakably clear that I don't like the bear that way. Sure, it puts me in a bad relationship with a handsy hyena who doesn't really care about my feelings, but at least things don't get weird between me and the bear. I, on occasion, deal with fear like that.

Other people take action. We cure fear with knowledge. Good, sound knowledge. We ask questions, and we think. We understand that everything in life worth experiencing comes with some amount of risk, calculated or otherwise, and we go for it. Sometimes we get hurt. But we learn. Other times we succeed, and we experience the sustinence of life and the vitality of real friendship and love. Example: I see a bear. I walk up to a bear. I see that it's growling because there's a thorn in his paw. I take out the thorn. We grab a beer. We watch football. We talk about fathers and work and our dreams. Yeah. I'm not exactly one of those, either.

No, I'm in the other class of fear, the Hamlet realm. Paralysis is my medium. We see a problem and analyze it to death. We think of ways we could overreact and laugh it all off as an idiot's fancy. We see ways we could defend ourselves, but the prospect is so boring, we don't bother. We even think sensibly enough to come up with a worthy solution to our problems. But when it comes right down to it, we're not sure we have what it takes to make it work. We wait. And then we wait. And then . . . That sentence never gets finished. Example: I see a bear. He's picking bits of me out of his teeth, and he's saying, "Dude, you think too much. Overthinkers are tasty."

So here we are. The overreacters get their way, even if it makes everyone miserable. The defenders keep us where they want us, but with mixed results. The assertive folk try to help, but they eventually find better things to do than wait for us to make a decision. This is the life of an overthinker. A world where fear keeps anything meaningful from ever changing.

P.S. Of course, there's the Cobra Kai dojo, where fear does not exist. I forgot them.

2 comments:

  1. I think it's good we all play our role. I am definitely the one that would take action, not afraid of much, but I definitely would not be going up to ANY bear EVER.

    Steph

    ReplyDelete
  2. I would never eat an overthinker. Overthinkers taste like leather.

    ReplyDelete

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