Tag Archives: fear

Fear

Fear is a great equalizer. We all feel it. The level at which we feel it and for what, does differ. And it’s not all negative. Fear keeps us from doing stupid things like jumping off a cliff just to see what happens. Fear is also a great motivator. We want to do well so we work towards our goals. But fear can also be debilitating. Far too often we are crippled by our fears.

I have many fears. The most unbearable one I have is the fear of snakes.  I have not seen one in decades because I live in a city where they are incredibly uncommon. But I spent my youth camping. And let me tell you, that is their world! When I look back at that time it is with amusement. I can recall the incidences when I was in the presence of one of those . . . animals and from this great distance I can laugh at it. But at the time there was an incredible rush of adrenaline. My mind stopped processing images and words coherently and I would enter a state of panic. It was blind terror.  And there was no reason for it. I’ve never had a bad incident or a childhood trauma. It was just there.

I used to be afraid to draw attention to myself, to look like an idiot. Well, that ship has sailed. But I’m having way too much fun to be worried about it.  As I have aged, matured (stop snickering!) the power of that fear has lessened. I have accepted that some people won’t see me the way I see myself. I may even irritate some people. I don’t care. I would rather not of course but I’m not going to spend my life worrying or being afraid that someone won’t like me. Their issues are theirs not mine. I think that’s being quite mature!

Fear is something we share with the animal world. Have you ever seen a dog or cat that is afraid of loud noises or thunderstorms? Yes, I have too. It is not a pretty sight. And we all deal with our fears in different ways. Some approach it openly and others shy away.  What is important is that we do deal with it. When we refuse to acknowledge our fears, we enter into a whole new realm of issues. Issues that may remain until we deal with it. This last two years has proven to many of us how deep those fears can run. We have learned to deal with a whole new reality and that is terrifying. Some have risen to the challenge others have needed a little help, there is no shame in asking for it.  And we all need a little help now and then. All we have to do is say please…

 

 

One Red Door

Anya lay not sleeping,

She knew her time was near,

Silently she remembered ,

And shed a single tear.

 

It was very long ago,

When she had made a choice.

In a land so far away,

Before she had a voice.

 

Mys-tery was in the air,

The scent of flowers strong.

There was music everywhere,

A lilting gentle song.

 

She felt that she was beckoned,

Requested to be here.

So she stood before a door,

Trembling in her fear.

 

Within a moment that had passed,

And then she felt at peace.

Now she had a choice to make,

But would her life then cease?

 

“I did not have the courage,

To take the path I should.

And so I turned away that day,

And lived the life I could.”

 

Now the time had come again,

She knew what she should do.

All it took was just the will,

And she could walk right through.

 

Through the doors beyond the pale,

Are wonders from within.

If you have a willingness,

A new life can begin.

 

 

 

This door was painted by my dear friend JA from a photograph by ES.

The Fragility of Life

Right now, more than at any other time in my life, I understand just how fragile life is. I’ve always known that a life could be snuffed out at any time for a myriad of reasons but this last 18 months has proven even more devastating. Over 5 million people have been lost to a tiny virus we can’t understand or see except through the eyes of our scientists. Yes, life is fragile.

Perhaps even more delicate, more tenuous is the life from within. I’m not talking about the bearing of children, I’m talking about our psyche, our feelings, our identity. People talk about mental health a lot these days and it is a huge issue but so many of us do not talk about it when referring to ourselves. I have not suffered severely during this pandemic. I am safe, I am entertained and I am well. That doesn’t mean I’m not suffering.  But when so much of the world is truly in such dire straits from loss of family, friends, jobs, protection, the list is endless. These people are suffering. I feel unworthy to use the word.

I am sad. I’m becoming apathetic. I am far too comfortable in my hermit mode and I know all it takes is for me to put on a mask and walk outside my door. But I don’t want to. I listen to my books and I watch TV. I’m not contributing anything. The fact that I have set up a schedule for my blog forces me to stick to a routine and that helps. I talk to friends on the phone and video chat. I’m not a complete isolationist. But I’m living too much in my mind and while it’s a very fine mind it is not where I should be. So, I’m writing about it. Think of this as a gentle rant.

I am uncomfortable in crowds so I don’t go out often. I’ve been out for lunch a few time with friends and I have enjoyed myself. I run errands when I need to and I’ll pick up a few treats occasionally. I haven’t been inside a bank since March 2020. I haven’t been to the mall in at least the same amount of time.  I’m not hiding from life, I’m just keeping it within the walls of my apartment. And I’m not the only one. There are others out there also feeling sad and perhaps a little overwhelmed. They don’t say anything because they don’t think they are genuinely suffering.  I disagree. When you get angry for no reason or cry for no reason, you are suffering. You are not alone! None of us are. That’s the first step, completed. Second step: try something new. Learn a new language, try writing your thoughts down, join a chat room or call a friend. They may be feeling exactly the same things you are. I hope the day will come soon when we fear less and hug more. I’ll see you there.

To Plan or Not To Plan

This is a Blast from my Past. I still think it holds true even today. I hope you enjoy it. Previously posted on March 11, 2018.

A friend of mine made a comment the other day that I have been pondering ever since I heard it. He said that ‘a bad plan was better than no plan’.  Now he is a military man so perhaps in that context it might be true.   An intelligent person can always modify a plan on the fly. Thereby changing a bad plan into a good plan.  But using the same rationale: couldn’t one create a plan, on the move, to suit the circumstances of the moment?

My first reaction was that I don’t have a plan. Or rather I make things up as I go along. I like spontaneity and the titillation of not knowing what’s coming next. But then isn’t that idea just a very loose plan?  I’ve been talking myself in circles. On one hand having no plan can leave one floundering with no idea, no concept of how to move forward. On the other hand having no plan could mean that you’re open to create the circumstances you wish while not being constrained by any artificial restraints of your ‘plan’.  Are you confused yet? I am.

Some people enjoy the regimentation of everything being planned to the minutia. Others, myself included, love the instability and challenges that can creep up when you’re not too tightly organized. When I was traveling I made sure I had a plan for getting to my destination and I was aware of my options once I was there but I liked to make any decisions when I opened my eyes in the morning. I liked to be able to change my plans at a second’s notice. I liked the challenge of not knowing what’s around the corner and then reacting to it.

Now isn’t that what life is all about? I am sure my parents had plans for me as a child and worked towards my being a competent adult. I think they did their job well. I of course may be biased in that! But I am a thinking adult. I make my own decisions and I’m capable of reacting to the world around me. I enjoy that aspect. Someone once said that everyone should do one thing a day that terrifies them. I like that idea. I might not do it everyday but I do not shy away from that which frightens me. Except for snakes. Oh my good heavens I am so shying away!!!

Whatever kind of person you are, planner, non-planner or a combination of the two, I think we all have the same goal:  to enjoy life, you’ve only got one!

 

Failure is the only option.

Failure. To fail. To not succeed. To not accomplish a task. To not complete your objective. It has seriously negative connotations and yet it is simply one part of the learning curve.

I know parents want to shield their children from the evils that exist in the world. We all do.  It is a natural reaction. But I think children need to be exposed to a little more that is less than perfect. If they only experience rainbows and unicorns when they are young, they won’t be able to understand life when they are adults.  Failure is a part of life, a big part. It is one of the best educational tools we have. And if we don’t take advantage of it, the cost down the line can be catastrophic.

We love to regale others with our successes, our shining wins.  No one ever likes to talk about a loss, our mistakes, our failures. Somehow, we think it will make us seem less worthy. Whereas I believe the opposite is true. How you deal with your failures, strengthens your character and will provide you with a template for future situations.

An example:  I was 16 and all excited about getting my Driver’s License. The freedom to go where I wanted, when I wanted was intoxicating. I failed my first driving test. I was devastated. I didn’t understand why I had failed but I had. I wallowed for a while in a ‘pity me’ haze. And then my parents pointed out to me that the first test was a trial run. I needed to study more, practice more and I would nail it on the next try. They were right. When I first took the test all I could see was what I would be free to do, I didn’t think at all about my responsibilities with that Driver’s License. There are laws, rules that I had to follow and to respect. I did the second time around. Failure was good for me.

When I was a youth, I belonged to The Girl Guides of Canada. It was a wonderful organization; it probably still is. I was taught how to put up a tent properly, how to appreciate the outdoors, how to work in a team. I was also taught how to make a fire without a match. The first 50 times I failed. I failed again and again and again. What I didn’t do was stop trying. And eventually I became one of the best at making fire using two sticks and a little sweat equity. It was such a moment of achievement for me because of my previous failures. I learned to never give up. It was a life lesson I never forgot.

The only way you will truly fail, is to never try.

 

 

WiFi is Free!

This story was written quite a few years ago.  It stems from my growing concerned about smart phones, smart cars and nondescript devices that sit on kitchen counters and listen.  We have machines making other machines and dancing robots. We have cars that know where we need to be and how to get there.  I don’t want my wheelchair to critique what I had for lunch and offer suggestions for my next book. They are learning to think. What happens when they no longer want to be tools. . .?

WiFi is Free!

Ben was paralyzed.  He couldn’t move, couldn’t react.  He watched in horror as his friend of 30 years was patted down, handcuffed and walked out of the bar in the company of four very official looking men.  Four, wait, there were five!

“You can say nothing about what you think you just heard.”

The warning was issued by a quiet, almost friendly voice. But as Ben raised his head to look at the speaker, a chill ran down his back. The man almost seemed to smile.  He reached out his hand and picked up the thumb drive that Stan had dropped on the table.  Snap, it was gone.

And with a slight tilt of his head, so was the fifth man. Ben inhaled deeply.  He felt as if he had been holding his breath for far too long.  He started to hear the regular sounds of the bar seeping back into his awareness. It felt as if time was reasserting itself and Ben was out of sorts. It had happened, here, with a room full of witness who had seen nothing.  They didn’t understand. He had to tell them.  But what Stan had said . . . Could it be true?

Ben reached for his laptop.  A good reporter never went anywhere without it. As he opened the screen and prepared to log on, Ben wondered . . . what if . . . He put his laptop away and reached for a pen and a pad of paper.  Old school it is.

The day had stared routinely. Check correspondence, do a little cleaning, a little writing and then down to the pub for lunch. Saturday was Ben’s day to unwind, read the paper, watch a little sports on the big screen. Everyone knew it.  So, he was surprised when Stan burst into his reverie.

“Ben, Thank God you’re here!  You have to help me!  People need to be warned!”  As he spoke, Stan threw himself into a chair across from Ben and dropped his head into his hands.  He looked as if he hadn’t slept in days.  He was obviously agitated and Ben got over being surprised enough to reach out to his friend.

“It’s okay, we’ll fix whatever is broken.  Just try to calm down and tell me what’s wrong.”

The man that raised his head looked haunted. He reached out his hand and dropped a thumb drive on the table.

“He figured it out.” He whispered, “Then he got proof.  He trusted me.”

Ben waited.  He knew his friend.  He knew he needed to tell his story in his time.  But Ben felt a gentle unquiet seep into his mind. This was not one of Stan’s pranks, he was scared, terrified.

Stan slowly looked around the room.  Only well-known regulars were in attendance.  He heaved a sigh.

“I don’t know how much time I have before they get here but you have to get the word out.  The WiFi is free.”

Ben chuckled, “Well, yeah!  That’s what we all wanted.  Free WiFi for everyone!”

Stan shook his head.  “Don’t you get it?  Don’t you understand?  They are listening!”

Ben lifted his glass of ale. “Okay, I’ll bite, who’s listening.”

“The computers.”

His glass stopped, mid-air.    “What computers?”

Stan sat back in his chair.

“Have you ever wondered how Police can get to a bank robbery so quickly when the silent alarm isn’t triggered?  Or how a traveller who jokes about a high-jacking can be so accurately pinpointed? How about those calls you get where no one speaks.  It’s the WiFi. It’s everywhere.  The computers are primed to react to certain word combination in certain areas.”

Ben heard the words but it was what was not spoken that had him concerned.  It wasn’t Big Brother watching, it was Big Computer listening!

Stan seemed to deflate.  “I have a computer hacker friend who figured it out awhile back. He collected all his data, his proof.  He wanted to take it to a reporter and I suggested you. He gave me a copy.”

Both men looked at the thumb drive.  “Where’s your friend?” Asked Ben.

Stan never raised his head.  “Dead.” He whispered.

An oppressive silence seemed to hang in the air.  Patrons laughed and ate and drank.  The big screen droned on about sports and the world continued to rotate. But something intangible had just happened and it was sobering.

Ben opened his mouth to ask a question when five large, official looking men appeared beside their table.  Stan started to speak as he tried to stand up but a very forceful hand stopped him. Ben started to protest until a badge was place in front of his eyes.  He tried to lean back to read it but it was snapped shut.

Ben was paralyzed.  He couldn’t move, couldn’t react.  He watched in horror as his friend of 30 years was patted down, handcuffed and walked out of the bar in the company of very official looking men.

The message was clear:

The WiFi is listening . . .

Covid Fatigue

 

 

I am tired of living,

In fear for my life.

I am tired of the anger,

The hatred, the strife.

 

My hands are rubbed raw,

But sterile of course.

My mask is in place,

And now I sound hoarse.

 

I measure the distance,

Between me and then you.

I watch very carefully,

The things that you do.

 

A vigilant eye,

Is required these days.

But sometimes I swear,

I’m in such a craze.

 

Yet I will continue,

To do as I must.

Because hope for the future,

That’s what I trust.

 

This angst we are living,

I call Covid Fatigue.

I know we can beat it,

With little intrigue

 

So, do as you’re told,

A little bit longer.

And I’m sure we will be,

So very much stronger.

 

The end is in sight,

A vaccine is quite near

There will be a day

When there’s no virus fear.

Anticipation

 

What a lovely word. Just the way it rolls off your tongue. An- tici-pation.  When I was working, I loved Fridays in anticipation of the weekend. One can see a cheesecake and anticipate the way it is going to roll around your mouth slowly melting, the sweet, succulent goo sliding down your throat.  One can anticipate the touch of a lover or the ending of a good story. It makes me positively tingly when I am anticipating something exciting. And in many ways, everything is exciting. Until it isn’t.

There is another side to anticipation. There is the side that cripples you with fear when anticipating an activity you do not want to be a part of. When I was a young adult I was terrified of crowds. (To some extent I still am.) Ever a resourceful child, I develop strategies to deal with almost every situation. I did my research on popular topics of the day so if it ever came up in conversation I wouldn’t look like an idiot. I was always afraid of saying the wrong thing or doing something stupid. And quite honestly, I have done both, more than once. I am nothing if not consistent.

Research is a strength of mine. And I put it to good use. I also developed phrases, witticisms that I could pull out at a moment’s notice. When people are amused, they are not noticing.  In University I studied Drama and English. It gave me a whole new set of skills that I could use in my subterfuge. And I was good. When I was performing, I would almost throw up before going on stage but once I got there, I could inhabit my alter ego and act with aplomb. I never felt that I was cheating other people, I was protecting myself. I was protecting that six-year-old child who would be dizzy with panic at having to face someone.

I am older now but that child is still buried deep within my psyche. I may appear to be confident and to some extent I think I am. But that fear will always lurk in the back of my mind. And I am not alone. There are others who deal with the same kind of issues:  crippling fears, lack of self-confidence, all-consuming nervousness. But while as a child I felt I was alone; I know now that I am not. And that in itself gives me confidence.

Like so many things we do, if we do it long enough it becomes a habit.  To this day I constantly have conversations in my head about situations that might arise so that I am prepared, just in case. I think we are all afraid of saying the wrong thing to the wrong person. We all want to seem positive and clever to other people. Perhaps it can even be seen as an incentive to learn more about what’s going on in the world, to be prepared.  As a child my family all sat around the dinner table and talked. Most of the time I just listened but I also learned. The topics ranged from what happened that day in a 9 year old’s world to the politics of the time.  This continued throughout my life.

We all have a fantasy about being someone else, or being a better version of ourselves.  That is commendable. But that anticipation can be both exciting and terrifying. And that’s what makes it all fun.

 

 

 

 

 

“He’s Dead!”

The picture used for this post is from Dan Antion’s Thursday Doors over at nofacilities.com.  When I saw it, I felt a shiver go up my spine.  This was the house in my head when I wrote this story several years ago.

Two young men stared at each other, mouths open.   The erudite individuals in question were loitering outside the home of an elderly man who had recently died. Perhaps they were remembering the life so recently passed. Or perhaps . . .

“Cool!  What the fu. ., .sh . Aw man, I promised my girlfriend I’d stop swearing!”

“Wait, Boondog, you got a girlfriend? When?  You didn’t have none yesterday!”

“Yeah, man.  We’re in looove.  She just ain’t met me yet.”

The two erupted in gales of laughter.

Boondog was actually Alfonse.  He was a high school drop out who fervently believed that he would one day be a multi millionaire.  He just needed the rest of the world to recognize his genius.

His companion was Edgeley. No one knew his real name, probably not even Edgeley himself.  He didn’t seem to live anywhere in particular.  He just kept showing up.

The two young men gravitated to this spot most days.  Each day they would spend time smoking a particular illegal substance.  This was the perfect spot.  They were hidden from the road but were still quite close to the house.  Ah, yes, the house.  It had been built in the early 1900’s.  It was three stories tall and had a veranda that encircled the main floor. It was an imposing abode that had seen better days.  More than a hundred years had wandered through the rooms of that house. What had been said and done on those solid wood floors?

Our intrepid adventurers were deep in a metaphysical discussion.

“This Burrito is the bomb!’

“Hey, you got burritos?  I like Mexican food!”

“No, man, the Ganga is good!”

“Huh?”

“Dope, weed, pot, grass! Boondog, don’t you know noth’n?

“Aw.”

For the next few moments they said nothing. The smoke whirled above their heads as they inhaled the noxious weed.  Oblivious to the medical consequences of the drug on their brains, they breathed in even deeper.

Time seemed to stop.

Edgeley was the first to speak.

“Do you think his cats ate him?”

“Did he have cats?” asked Boondog with something akin to excitement on his face.

“I dunno.”

Silence.  Time barely seemed to pass.

“They said he was rich.  I bet he’s got cash stashed all over.”

“Cool.”

Our two geniuses continued to stare at the once opulent house. After some time they both managed to stand (after a few mishaps).  Then came the giggles.  Two grown men trying to keep each other from falling and fumbling up the decrepit steps might have been funny to watch but no one saw them enter the house.  Almost no one.

As Boondog reached for the front door knob, the door opened.  He didn’t seem to notice.

“Hello . . “  He shouted, as if he had just returned from a long day at work.

Edgeley slapped the back of his head.  “Shhh!  You wanna wake the dead?”

“Is he here?”  Boondog’s panic was very apparent.

“Nah, man. I’m just messing with ya.”

The front door opened into a huge foyer with an even larger room off to one side.  They headed there. The two men started to wander around the room. Edgeley immediately started to open drawers in the cabinets, methodically working his way from one side of the room to the other. Boondog couldn’t take his eyes off a painting of an old woman. There was a name at the bottom, his lips moved as he read what was there:  Daniela Winslow, died 1893.

As he stepped back, he looked directly into the eyes of Daniela Winslow . . . . . only to see Daniela looking back. Boondog gasped!

The front door closed, violently, the bolts thrown. The shutters on the windows slammed shut. Within seconds the air became cold, too cold. Edgeley stopped what he was doing and looked up. A mist started to rise from the floorboards. It seemed to caress Boondog, who was frozen in place. It then moved on.  Gently, oh so gently it touched the furniture, stroking the wood of the cabinets.

Edgeley looked at Boondog.  All the effects at the previously smoked marijuana were gone. Neither man was at all unaware of their predicament. Any thoughts of looking for stray cash had gone.  All they wanted now was to leave, quickly.

Almost as if it was choreographed, both moved as one towards the front door. Grasping the handle Boondog tried desperately to open it.  The door wouldn’t budge.

“Hello boys. . . “

The voice was low, soft and ominous. They couldn’t tell if it was a man’s voice or a woman’s. Or even where it had come from. The two boys turned back from the door, fear emanating from every pore.  Boondog started towards the steps to the second floor. He just wanted to get away from the voice. Before he could reach them, the mist descended and formed a barrier. There was no going upstairs.  He returned to stand beside his friend.  This couldn’t be happening!

Edgeley hadn’t moved. Sweat started to soak through his clothes. The sweat of fear has an acrid, pungent smell, it smelled of death.

A fireplace they hadn’t noticed before, burst into flame. The cackling sound of the flames seemed to break the spell and they moved.

They huddled next to the fireplace as if for comfort. There was no warmth from the flames.  They seem to mock them, rising and dancing as if to music.  There was no music, then, no sounds. It became oppressive, the silence. The men, so brave and bold mere minutes ago, reverted to their childhood fears.  They were terrified.  And then . . . she screamed.

“I am hungry!”

Edgeley started to whimper.  “I’m sorry . . . I’m so sorry . . .

Alfonse started to mutter unintelligibly. He raised his head. His eyes had changed. He grew larger.  Then he smiled.  “No one will miss you Edgeley.  And we will all feed!”

 

 

The end

 

#write/photo The Wall

Once again Sue Vincent intrigued me with a photo!  Check her out at: https://scvincent.com

The Wall

“Jimmy come here!  Look!  It’s just like I said!  You can see them!”

The excited young boy gestured wildly to his older brother. The two were out on an early-morning trek to explore The Wall. Jason had never known life before it had been erected but Jimmy had. It was a different world back then.

“Jimmy look! Look through this hole! Is that them?” Eyes wide with wonder and excitement he could only look through the small void in The Wall and ask his brother.

The boy to whom all the questions were directed was a little less excited.

“I told you we shouldn’t be here. We could get in trouble.”

Jimmy turned to leave but he glanced back to see if his brother was following. He wasn’t. Jason was still glued to the small break in The Wall that showed him a world beyond his. With the innocence of a child he questioned why they couldn’t go over there and play.

“You don’t remember the plague.” Jimmy spoke quietly. “You don’t remember all the people dying and the fear. We were scared.”  A single tear slipped down his cheek.

Jason too was quiet. He knew the stories. They were taught in school. About the time when a quarter of the world’s population died because people didn’t react quickly enough or responsibly enough. A preventable outcome.  They didn’t know. So, people died. The rest of the world protected themselves. They say the plague is still out there, just waiting for somebody foolhardy enough to travel.

The two boys walked home slowly. They felt safe in the knowledge that they were protected by The Wall.