Everyone has deep-seated fears. Franklin D. Roosevelt famously said we have nothing to fear but fear itself. However, most of us have a list of fears that goes far beyond that. Some typical fears include heights, snakes, spiders, and having a water balloon explode on your head in the middle of the night. Public speaking is feared by many people. Fear of failure is rampant. So is fear of flying, and, as exploited by Hollywood, flying in a plane filled with snakes, which is more likely than the scenarios presented in most Hollywood movies.
Some people, like Charlie Brown, fear everything. I’m pretty close to that. I thought of something last week that I’m not afraid of, but I can’t remember what it is. I’m sure that’s just as well. If I thought about it long enough, I’d probably talk myself into being afraid of it, and that would ruin my day. And one of my biggest fears is having my day ruined, so you can see the dilemma.
Growing old is often dreaded by the young. To a youngster, being old is seen as a calamity of gigantic proportions. As one ages, this fear tends to diminish, as the age that defines “old” recedes. I used to think forty was old. Now I think old begins when triple digits are hit.
Another shared fear is being attacked by wild animals. We sometimes hear of joggers or hikers being menaced by mountain lions, also known as panthers, also known as cougars, also known as pumas, also known as catamounts – well, it turns out you can call them pretty much anything you like. Whatever you call them, people are not in favor of being attacked by one, although many would prefer that over the water balloon thing.
A related fear is that of being defenseless. This fear seems intertwined with our DNA, from the days of the caveman. Lacking proper weaponry, our ancestors would be attacked by lions and tigers and bears and green witches, and had no means of defense or escape, not even ruby slippers. It’s never a good idea to be put in the position of relying on the merciful largesse of a savage beast.
It stands to reason that combining these categories leads to particularly intense fear. For example, being old and defenseless is a bad combination. A good example is marauding grandchildren descending on the house. This is actually very similar to being attacked by a cougar. The resulting cacophony alone is quite intimidating, as the kiddos try to dominate each other by displaying bellowing skills, which is also buried deep in our DNA. Come to think of it, our DNA leads to a lot of problems. Maybe we’d be better off without it.
One of the worst fears, as documented by the AMA, as well as the FBI, the FTD, and many other random groupings of the alphabet, is the excruciating fear of daffodils. Many a strong mind has been reduced to quivering putty by the sudden appearance of rogue daffodils. The flashback to the days of flower power in the late ‘60’s can be too much to bear. On a personal note, I don’t have this particular problem, as I don’t know a daffodil from a daisy from a dandelion. In this case, ignorance is bliss. In fact, I believe there is a strong correlation between bliss and ignorance, especially in the realm of politics. That’s why one of my New Year’s resolutions is always to forget as much as possible. I’m pretty darn good at it, too, if I remember correctly
You’ll notice that I have said nothing about how to deal with fears. I noticed that, too. Oh, well. If I had something useful or intelligent to say, surely I would have said it by now.
Since we started with an FDR quote, it seems appropriate to close with wisdom from his better half. Eleanor Roosevelt recommended, “Do one thing every day that scares you.” That’s excellent advice, which I already follow – it’s called getting out of bed. I also go one step beyond and do something truly frightening.
I turn on the news.
Well, as I’m sure you’ve been fearing, our little stroll through life’s box of fears is coming to an end. Have no fear, though – just think how happy you’ll be when it’s over. And I’m afraid that’s right now.