Fear, Knowledge, Perception

I don’t know how much time most of you spend thinking about fear, but the topic pokes around my brain enough to warrant a conversation.

I used to fear snakes– all snakes, pretty equally distributed across the entire reptilian species.  Then I gave birth to a boy whose love of the reptile would eventual make him lizard king.

While the other children read The Kissing Hand, Elliot read Field Guides.  When the other children went to Marbles to play, Elliot went to catch anoles. Boy holding a reptile field guide bookAnole on a boy's elbow

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When the other moms complained about reading the same 20 page book every night, I was trying to hide the 400 page Guide to All Dinosaurs in Existence.

I mention all of this not to impress you all with my child’s lizard savantry– but rather as the back story for how this new person rose from the ashes of a woman who used to kill first, question later.

See, I needed to mow our naturalized urban landscape (why shouldn’t weeds get a fancy new name?), and since I’ve planted my foot firmly in hippie-dom, I was out there with the manual mower, casually answering Elliot’s 345,678 questions.

I moved a landscape timber and there it was, a baby snake.  No yellow tip tail– so not a copperhead.  Nice round head, so not venomous.  

And sort of before I could really think about when my life changed so abruptly, I was standing there with a snake on a stick waiting for Elliot to get back with a small trash can.

Yeah, you read that correctly.

There he (she?) was, a perfectly harmless brown snake, now named “Scales”.   Soon thereafter I answered “no” to the 34th iteration of “can we keep her as a pet” and off to the leaf pile she went.

For the next 10-15 minutes, there the child sat, watching a snake watch him back.  Elliot and Scales Share a moment

Fear is an interesting, tangled up thing.  It’s important, being afraid– just ask Mr Bunny Rabbit how “zenlike calm” works out in the face of a descending hawk.  Fear drives flight from danger.

But when the danger isn’t really dangerous?  What then, is fear?

By definition, fear:

is a distressing emotion aroused by impending danger, evil, pain, etc., whether the threat is real or imagined; 

How do people stop being afraid?  Assuming the fears aren’t clinical, then moving past fear has to involve hours, days, years, of telling yourself you aren’t afraid.   Which then led me to…

We Find Our Courage Through Practiced Self Delusion

There you have it.  Go forth and self-delude and you’ll eventually find yourself holding your fear on the end of a stick for a close examination before shrugging and releasing it out into the wild.

Except for the palmetto bugs– they don’t count, because, really, snakes don’t FLY.

 

 

 

3 thoughts on “Fear, Knowledge, Perception

  1. So I’m raising a budding herpetologist too! He’s been into reptiles and amphibians since he was 4 and hasn’t stopped. I totally have a new found respect for snakes because of his knowledge and passion. You can check out his channel on youtube at “Herping with Aidan.” Your son might find the episodes interesting and see a kid into the same thing. I’m a new reader and really like what I’m reading so far. Keep up the good work!

    • Thanks! My husband an I rescued a 5 ft rat snake from our blueberry netting last week. That would have NEVER happened before the boy!

  2. So I’m raising a budding herpetologist too! He’s been into reptiles and amphibians since he was 4 and hasn’t stopped. I totally have a new found respect for snakes because of his knowledge and passion. You can check out his channel on youtube at “Herping with Aidan.” Your son might find the episodes interesting and see a kid into the same thing. I’m a new reader and really like what I’m reading so far. Keep up the good work!

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