Now that the original meme questions are dispensed with, Discussion Questions are needed for the next seventeen days. Thankfully, I received a thoughtful Reader's question via email, so we are set for the present. For those of you who have been enjoying this series of Daily Postings, please do likewise. Simply click the email link in my Sidebar or post your queries in Comments.
In about 1970 when my sister Susan was six years old, a big story was in our local newspaper about a guy who almost died from a bite from a brown recluse spider. Her best friend Curt told her all about it in a very matter-of-fact but gory and detailed accounting. Susan, already unhappy about sharing the planet with spiders anyway, became terrified that every single spider was a brown recluse. Unfortunately, she became terrified that every single dust bunny, tangle of hair, piece of dryer lint, and piece of potting soil was a brown recluse as well. It was awful. Because Helpful Curt had given her an exhaustive lecture on the habits of the brown recluse, she knew it liked to be...well, reclusive. She would not even put her feet on the floor in the morning until we told her we had looked for a brown recluse under the bed. This continued for each shoe and sock, each piece of clothing, and every single thing with which she came into contact. It was bad enough for the family; I can't imagine what it must have been like for her. I can still remember the look on her face in the morning, her legs pulled up tightly, crying and shaking her head, refusing to get down. She was genuinely afraid.
I don't remember now how it all became resolved, but I do remember wanting to beat the hell out of Curt. And I was only eleven. It never occurred to me to be afraid of the spider. I wonder why. Maybe because I had my own heebie jeebies to think about, which leads me to today's question:
Do you have any irrational fears?
Ah, the killer there is the word "irrational." That makes this a little more thinky. Would Susan's fear of the brown recluse count? Not sure. What do you think? Her reactions might be irrational, but her fear? Hmm.
I would say I have two irrational fears. The first is my fear of snakes. On its face, it appears rational. Some snakes are quite dangerous. How would you know if the snake were poisonous or not? Best to leave them all alone. But my fear is so instantaneous, so much a phobia, that I can't stand to look even at a picture of a snake without an immediate reaction of my stomach lurching, my eyes tearing up, and my muscles jerking. I won't touch a photograph of a snake. I had a real-life encounter with a snake twice. The first time, I was within six inches of it. I saw it, dropped everything, screamed, ran, stopped, then screamed again. I stood there, about thirty yards from it, and every once in a while, I would shudder and scream again. I could not scream it out of my memory. The second time, a colleague brought in his albino python to show science classes. He was walking in the halls with it. As he neared me, I got the clenched stomach, teary eyes, but instead of running away, I was rooted to the spot. I must have been pale, too, because he saw me, apologized profusely, and turned around. Have I ever had, in my childhood or early life, a pivotal encounter with a snake? Nope.
The second may not even truly be a fear. Honestly, I'm not so sure what it is, but nearly every time I'm at the top of a set of stairs, I get a flash, a millisecond of an image of myself lying at the bottom. It happens every time I'm going to go down a new, different set of stairs, say at someone's home or at a museum or winery. It happens only once in a while at my home. Certainly I don't want to fall downstairs anyplace. I'm especially afraid of falling and knocking my teeth out or messing up my leg with the titanium screw already in it. Isn't that the strangest, goofiest thing?
I cannot wait to hear your Irrational Fears in comments. Be Brave and Tell All! Remember, Emerson said, "Fear defeats more people than any other one thing in the world."