There have been times in my life that I have allowed fear to take over my thoughts. The "what if" fear in which I have created scenarios of illness, death or loss and let my imagination whisk me away into a paralyzing state of obsession. All I could think about was how I would no longer be able to enjoy this life I love so dearly. No more interactions with children, no more teaching, no more fun, no more happiness, no more anything pleasurable ever again!
Intertwined with all of this of course is a grand flair for the dramatic. Even when my neurosis was at its best I never failed to provide a proper soundtrack or wordy commentary. It was almost as tho I wanted to wallow in my own misery. What feeds that kind of unhealthy behavior?
I think I have spent too much time in the past sitting with the fear that the things I love most will be taken away from me. Thankfully something has evolved and changed in me as I have gotten older.
This might be because time and again every illness or scenario that I can imagine for myself has proven to reside only in my imagination. And I do not discount that fact. But I think perhaps the main reason I have conquered my fears (for the time being anyway) is that I have faith in that inner core or strength that lies within each of us. This allows us to deal with troublesome circumstances when/if the need arises. The realities of life, as terrible as they may sometimes be, never seem to measure up to the decimating level I can create in my mind.
I find that this 'lazy' worry about what might happen is a luxury, because when things are really, truly bad we do not have the time to ponder "what if". We cope. We get on with it. We accept.
By the way, nothing bad has happened to prompt this post. Rather, I have faced a fear and come out on the happy side of it.
I think that fear also intrigues and interests us even as we protest. Joy and I went to see an Off Broadway production a few years back of Shockheaded Peter. It is based on a series of German cautionary tales for children titled Struwwelpeter.
The show had a fantastic poster displayed throughout New York City and Joy was able to procure inexpensive tickets. I was eager to go. Our seats were in the very front row and as soon as the curtain went up I wanted to leave...and I wanted to stay. I was scared. I mean really scared. I had visions of the vampire theater from Interview with a Vampire in which the audience becomes a trapped feast.
The main character, the narrator, freaked me out in a way I have not felt since I was a young boy watching the child catcher lure little children in Chitty, Chitty, Bang, Bang. The guy on stage was SO creepy and since we were in the front row he kept looking at me, taunting me, getting ready to jump down off the stage and get me. I knew it. I curled up close to Joy who simply stared this freak down with a defiant attitude and a "just try it" expression.
The show incorporated large disturbing puppets who told the macabre, Edward Goreyesque tales. One vignette told The Story of Little Suck-A-Thumb who was warned by his mother that if he continued to suck his thumb the "great tall tailor" would come and cut it off with his "great sharp scissors". You guessed it, little suck-a-thumb sticks his thumb back in his mouth and gets it snipped off by the frightful tailor with the long shears.
On stage the dismembered thumbs are flung out into the audience and yours truly was not above screaming like a little girl.
But perhaps the most disturbing aspect of this show was that it was a musical! Not a happy, la la la, we-love-life musical but a truly horrible we-are-gonna-get-you-musical. I found a clip of the Tiger Lillies singing a song from the show and you can see for yourself how unsettling it is.
I was freaked by this show but at the same time I couldn't stop talking about it. I even bought the children's book which I enjoy. But maybe this is what we all need to do. Face our fear, stare it down and move on.