What Are You Afraid Of?

(Part two of a series of rambles dreamed up at four a.m. on the imperfections of self)

We all have fears, many of them quite reasonable. For the purpose of this ramble, however, I’m going to share my most ridiculous terrors. The things that might (probably will) never happen, yet still cause me to pause in whatever I’m doing for a moment of dread.

The first is…okay, I’m not going to attempt to qualify this. I’m deathly afraid of being caught in the vortex of a sinking ship. That means being sucked down with the wreck. Yep. For this to happen, I’d have to a) be on a ship and b) be in the water very close by as it sinks. This is assuming I wasn’t killed in the explosion that cracked the ship in half, or didn’t brain myself on the railing as I fell over the side. (The latter scenario is very, very likely.)

Why not throw tentacles into the mix? The ocean is vast and scary!
Why not throw tentacles into the mix? The ocean is vast and scary!

I’m not sure why this is a fear. I’m guessing I saw it in a movie—and never forgot it. But I will say that this is a recurring nightmare. I think about it even when shipboard travel is not in my future. It’s a big “What If”.

Now that you’re shaking your head, we’ll move on to my second fear: choking. This one is based on a coupe of very real incident, the most horrific being my daughter choking on a Dot (gummy candy) in a Wal-Mart parking lot. I know, I’m my very own Lifetime Movie. She was maybe two years old at the time.

My daughter is alive and well. After panicking—wailing, hand-wringing and generally thinking my child was going to DIE—I picked her up and performed the abbreviated Heimlich maneuver I had learned in a child care class two and a half years earlier. It worked on the first try. I then put her back into the car seat, sat in the front of my car and sobbed for about half an hour. I still freak out when she eats anything even remotely like a Dot. I’ve only just stopped cutting her grapes in half when including them in her school lunches. She’s fourteen. But these things stick with you and choking would be a terrible way to go—especially if you were alone and had no one to render assistance.

Death by choking is a much more attainable goal than being sucked down by the vortex of a sinking ship. I’m more afraid of the vortex, though.

Let’s see what else we have in my bag of horrors. Oh, aneurysms! And this one is fresh in my mind as I was researching them last night for a WIP. Did you know women are far more likely than men to suffer from an aneurysm? What scares me about them is that they often have no accompanying symptoms. They’re not disease that can be treated and unless you’re looking for one (with an expensive run of testing), they’re not detectable. They just happen.

Ah, Scanners. I need to watch this again sometime.
Ah, Scanners. I need to watch this again sometime.

As an aside, my daughter was not perturbed when I told her that if I had an aneurysm while driving, she’d likely die as well in the ensuing crash. But she also thinks she can swim clear of the sinking ship vortex.

I worry about asteroids hitting the earth on a fairly regular basis. Say monthly? I’m convinced the government will keep the incoming extinction event a secret to stave off panic.

I worry I will fall down the basement stairs on a near daily basis. This one is legit, as I have fallen down them before. I usually catch myself before I fall too far. In my little fear fantasy, I tumble all the way to the bottom and crack my head open on the hard concrete. I usually break an arm or a leg too. This scenario is extremely anxiety inducing as I usually have edits due, or something on a deadline and I hate the thought of leaving work undone as I recover.

Some nights, I worry something is lurking under the bed. Yes, I am forty-seven years old and still think there is something living under the bed. Now and again.

I’m almost at the point where I cannot fly. I actually spend extra in order to fly with certain airlines (the ones with the highest safety record). I have a reasonable explanation for this fear, though. I can’t even count the number of planes I’ve been on. Must be over fifty. Maybe close to a hundred flights (mostly without incident…). I am therefore convinced my number is coming up.

It could happen...
It could happen…

You’d be forgiven for thinking I have transmitted this blog post from my bunker—lead-lined and buried deep beneath the earth, stocked with years of supplies and everything else I might need for any number of coming apocalypses. That I avoid stairs, never dream of cruising to Hawaii (or solving the ultimate conundrum—whether to fly or sail to Australia to visit the folks). That I don’t drive for fear of crashing and that all my food has been passed through a food processor before touching my lips.

(We’re going to ignore the fact there might be lumps in my foodshakes and that my basement is sorta like an apocalypse bunker…)

The basement is cold. I’m actually sitting on the couch—feet propped up by the reclining mechanism that I am sure will trap and kill a cat one day if I fold it back too quickly. I have vacuumed my stairs, both sets, and have just eaten Brussels sprouts with my lunch. I once choked on a Brussels sprout. I tried to swallow it whole and it got stuck in my throat.

Thing is, whether our fears are large and ridiculous, or small and insignificant, we can’t let them rule us. I cannot worry I might be abducted from the Shoprite parking lot every time I made a nighttime bagel run. (They reduce the price of bagels by more than half at about 7:30 pm every night. Doughnuts too. Yes, this is semi-rural Pennsylvania night life).

I like taking the ferry to New York City from Port Imperial.

I want to fly to Australia next summer for my dad’s seventy-fifth birthday.

I will keep writing stories (of ALL kinds) without worrying what some random reviewer or reader might think of them. That they will hate them, and will begin a campaign to rate down everything I write because I’m obviously a hack who should not be published.

(…this is maybe an actual fear…)

I WILL live my life to the fullest each and every day. Not just because my fears are silly, but because I could be the squirrel my dad hit while driving me to school when I was about fourteen. While I wailed and flailed, my dad let me in on a little secret. There’s a force out there and it’s called Fate. That squirrel didn’t know he was going to die when he got up that morning. He didn’t eat his last nut thinking it might be…his last nut. Maybe he should have? But we can’t make every day different or special. Nor can we avoid crossing the road until its quiet. We have to get out there and live. Find our happiness, or make it. And perhaps entertain our friends with silly stories about what we’re afraid of.

(Image credits: First one–I’m not sure. It’s available on a number of desktop wallpaper sites. Exploding head: Scanners. Knotted plane: C’mon, you must know this one! Airplane!)

Looking for part one of this series? It’s here.

 

3 thoughts on “What Are You Afraid Of?

  1. Carl V. Anderson November 27, 2015 / 1:32 pm

    It is interesting, the things we are afraid of, both the ridiculously unlikely ones, and those that may be more probable. I think my more unlikely (let’s hope) fears stem from things I’ve read and/or watched, particularly as a kid. One of the things I am terribly afraid of is ending up in prison. Given that I don’t commit crimes, that is unlikely. But all the things I’ve heard/read about how you are treated in prison, I’ve occasionally had that fear of accidentally killing someone, like running them over, and ending up in prison having horrible things happen to me.

    I also have a fear of being buried alive..more from being in a collapsing building than actually being put in the grave. Ironically I love Poe’s buried alive stories,and others. I’m not claustrophobic by nature, but I can think myself into claustrophobia if I allow my imagination to run away with me.

    Then there are the fears generated by the type of society we live in today.

    But like you said, we cannot let fears rule us, nor should we really be making any decisions based on fears. We need to trust, have faith, and live our lives to the full extent, not allowing ourselves to be hindered by fears, nor to cower to them, whether real or imagined. It is a good thing to remember on occasion so that we will live brave lives.

    • Kelly Jensen November 27, 2015 / 1:44 pm

      I can relate to the fear of being buried alive. I’ve seen it happen too many times in the movies (or in the books). The idea of being trapped is awful!

      It is really interesting to contemplate other people’s fears, though. To see how differently our minds all work, what we get hung up on. But I’m glad you’ve reiterated the fact we have to get on and not allow our fears to rule us. And who’s to say a little fear isn’t healthy, eh? It teaches us caution and also allows for the fact we have imagination. 🙂

      • Carl V. Anderson November 27, 2015 / 1:53 pm

        I certainly think it is healthy to a degree. Being cautious is a part of exercising wisdom.

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