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.
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.
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.
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…
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.