What is your greatest fear?
It’s a much more difficult question in so many ways than it may first appear.
Years ago I boarded with a family when first attending university. There was another boarder, a friend of the husband who managed an RM Williams store in Melbourne. He seemed like a nice enough fellow, a little bit country and a fairly tough, crass sort of bloke. But he was terrified of mice. At the time I thought it was incredibly odd, especially for someone who grew up in Victoria’s north.
But not so. It seems when he was a lad there had been a mouse plague. He had fallen asleep sitting up in bed one night and woke surrounded by mice crawling all over his bed. When he stood, the wallpaper all around him had been eaten away by the mice and all that was left was his silhouette. I don’t recall how accurate this story is, but I have seen these types of stories around and I have no doubt they happened. It also adds real credibility and understanding for why he was afraid of them.
A close friend of mine is afraid of birds. I sometimes poke fun and patronise and then chide myself for it. My phobia is buttons (and that I will always have unfinished projects but that’s another story). Frankly, birds can do more damage than buttons, the latter being such a weird revulsion to feel, I agree (but damned inconvenient when shopping for clothes, a chore I detest).
A great many people have deep hatred for spiders. I’ve seen tough blokes squeal like little girls when confronted with the tiniest money spider.
Perhaps these fears stem from something primeval?
My daughter’s dad and I are currently doing a Doctor Who marathon when he stays for tea after dropping her off. He says he is terrified of the episode where the little boy has a gasmask fused to his face. It’s an episode I had found disturbing initially, but I view it now (for the 20th time admittedly) with compassion. Another is the one where the skeleton in the space suit yells “Hey, who turned out the lights”. It still gives me the creeps and my daughter has yelled this exact phrase at night when I have turned the lights out at bed time. I’m still not sure if she’s having a lend of me or is seriously asking the question – although there are only the two of us living here so her question is suspect. And another Who episode is the Weeping Angels.
And yet, in all these stories, once we know what is behind the ‘monster’, does it lose its sting? Is not knowing ‘why’ the real reason for our fear?
It’s a strange emotion and going back to the primeval thing, rationally the fear factor triggers the adrenalin for fight or flight. It is a thrill for the modern person that they would not necessarily feel on a daily basis. It is synthetic and has little to do with our survival. The fact we don’t need our daily adrenalin to survive is perhaps why we have such odd phobias … well, at least in my case it’s strange but more common than you would expect!
An article on Huffington Post provides an example here although I must ask why so many sites talking about koumpounophobia must have pictures of the little bastards everywhere (feeling a tad sick at this point).
What I think about fear in general is that knowing why we fear something really does take the sting out of it. (spoiler alert) The little boy with the gasmask fusion was just looking for his mum, the skeleton was the leftovers from dinner, and the weeping angels … nope, they still scare the crap out of me even though their choice of murder technique doesn’t seem as extreme as some.
Just thinking about it.
Just thought I’d write about it.
Just the ponderings that flash through my mind every few seconds.