The Random Comic Strip

The Random Comic Strip

Words to live by...

"How beautiful it is to do nothing, and to rest afterward."

[Spanish Proverb]

Ius luxuriae publice datum est

(The right to looseness has been officially given)

"Everyone carries a part of society on his shoulders," wrote Ludwig von Mises, "no one is relieved of his share of responsibility by others. And no one can find a safe way for himself if society is sweeping towards destruction. Therefore everyone, in his own interest, must thrust himself vigorously into the intellectual battle."

Apparently, the crossword puzzle that disappeared from the blog, came back.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

What's Your Greatest Fear?

Roosevelt, in his first inauguration speech, once famously intoned "The only thing we have to fear is fear itself." Looking back on that statement, I think it both makes sense and makes no sense. He was talking about the Great Depression and people were afraid; afraid of the future which looked bleak indeed but also of the many problems which seemed insurmountable. Roosevelt gave them hope. Hope tends to help us conquer fear, I think.

While pondering this, a question came to my mind... What is my greatest fear? What frightens me above all else?

Mulling it over, I came up with my answer: It depends on the situation.

When I was a small child, my greatest fear was of abandonment. I had nightmares about it. It was an irrational fear; my parents would never have abandoned me (though they may have had cause to from time to time) and I believe I knew that at some level... near the surface. But deep inside me, in that most insecure part of me, I feared abandonment more than just about anything else... except maybe my older brother... the bully.

But I have had many fears in my life. I feared I would always be short and skinny. In a way, I feared fear itself too. That is, I was afraid of being a coward. I am sure I was not alone in that fear but it's mostly a guy thing and it is very real. I became afraid of heights over time. I still have a fear of heights (acrophobia) but it's mostly that I suffer from vertigo. I used to overcome the acrophobia fairly easily just by will power. I would climb a ladder reluctantly but determined and, while I was never comfortable at any height above a few feet, eventually I would relax enough to feel confident. Vertigo took that away.

And I always had a fear of what others, especially girls and women, thought of me. Girls, especially, scared the heck out of me. One of the reasons I drank heavily in my teens and early twenties was to overcome that fear. It masked it, allowed me to relax, any miscues or gaffs could be blamed on the alcohol.  It also dealt nicely with that fear of being a coward. Get me drunk enough (which wasn't difficult to do) and I was fearless.

I also had a fear of failure. Undoubtedly related to that fear of what others might think of me, it kept me from taking risks when opportunities presented themselves. It kept me on that path to ultimate mediocrity (my greatest achievement). Thinking about this fear of failure, I have come to recognize I also had a fear of success. Succeed and people expect you to continue to succeed. I never felt I could repeat successes.

I can look back on my life and find reasons why I had these fears and why I let them control my life but the reasons are merely excuses. And now that I know that, I cannot go back and change my life.


Inspector Clouseau said...

Very nice piece Douglas. Have your lawyers contact mine about who gets the copyright on writing about insecurities today. You called it fear, I called it insecurity. Pretty much the same thing.

When I was a kid growing up in Alabama and North Carolina in the 1950s, I feared three things: (1) riding in the back of an ambulance, which in those days were operated by the funeral homes; (2) being bitten by a poisonous snake; (3) and sitting in a rocking chair in a nursing home in the country,

Nothing much has changed in my 61 years.

Douglas said...

Inspector, oddly I never feared riding in the back of an ambulance. There were times I feared I would have to, though.