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XTimes 1.06-Fear

Fear begins as a lie then feeds on itself. Given that initiating, crystalline falsehood, fear’s the only self-sustaining emotion. Like a boulder shoved off a cliff, its own mass amplifies its momentum. Like any story rooted in a false premise, fear employs logic to defy logic. The fearful seem crazy because they are crazed. Fear itself might be the only thing really worth fearing.

What, then, of those who trade in fear; those who seize every opportunity to seize others up with it? They must be liars; not mere slanderers, but false prophets. They trade in what seem to be cautionary tales but they elicit responses beyond caution into blindness and aphasia. We avoid in response, cordoning off possibilities. The subtle, skilled fear monger can persuade me to willingly construct my own box and to insist that I remain inside while he ravages my neighborhood.

Bayles and Orland, in their Art & Fear, insist that fear comes with every artist’s territory; a constant companion. They encourage working through it as if it were an annoying background noise. It feels real enough, but proves insubstantial. They offer good advice.

Fear seems especially personal. Terror thrives in crowds while fear cowers in isolating corners. I don’t want anyone else to know. I feel ashamed when I feel fearful. I might puff myself up to appear invulnerable when I’m really shrinking inside. I make a decent sheep when I’m afraid, and one lousy man.

I listen in dismay as another arch conservative fear monger delivers another impassioned floor speech, not even blinking while passing their BIG lie. “We’re broke,” he begins, though his logic makes no sense. Swallow that lie and embrace austerity, the favored economic policy of every dedicated pessimist; every rational liar. “Dead on arrival,” when it hasn’t even arrived yet. The liar lives projecting into a future especially engineered to engender the opposite of power, the inverse of genius. He says, “No!” and makes it stick more tenaciously than any encouraging “Yes!” ever could; ever has. Even I might feel vindicated, safer, when swallowing that first BIG lie.

I might be a better fear monger for myself than the best arch conservative politician could be for me. I live closer to my own home. I know my vulnerabilities well. I can and do find my scars in the dark. By dawn I have sometimes convinced myself that nothing really matters before nattering away another day afraid of every possibility.

Don’t tell me to be unafraid. You might as well tell me to be un-David or un-human. My body no less than my soul seems ridden with parasitical fears gnawing from the inside, burrowing even deeper. No known cure. I can feel my fears and proceed anyway, and I must. I stopped fearing any God just after I learned that I could do myself more damage than even the most vengeful God. I’m almost a master at scaring myself, but sometimes even more masterful at proceeding anyway.

©2013 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

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