Category: fear

To be read, carefully

emilyrapp Have you ever picked up a book that you knew was going to flatten you emotionally and yet you read it anyway? Willingly?

I know a great many people read to escape so why, therefore, would I want to read something that will have me ripping Kleenexes out the box and wishing the planet wasn’t such a broken place? I can only say sometimes I read to reflect and ponder, and that it’s good to be reminded that when love takes us to the crucible we re-learn how much love defines us not how hot the fire was.

I am adding “The Still Point of the Turning World,” to my To Be Read stack even though I know it’s the heart-wrenching memoir of a young mother who lost her precious little boy to Tay-Sachs disease, a rare and congenital condition that is always fatal. As in, always. Children with Tay-Sachs lack an enzyme responsible for breaking down specific chemicals in the nerve cells of the brain. When these chemicals aren’t removed,”they build up, and the child loses his or her ability to function. Seizures and loss of sight and movement are all symptoms of the child’s body shutting down.”

I read this excerpt, which just about tore me in two, and that actually clinched it for me.  I have to read the rest. I have to know what it was like for this mother to walk that road and come out on the other side, even if I would approach the same quest from a different faith. I believe those I love and who love God like I do will be forever with me in heaven. Could I survive an ordeal like this one if I didn’t? I’m thinking no. . .

In this interview, author Emily Rapp says:  “One of the things about having a terminally ill child is that you start to understand and really absorb your own mortality and the mortality of every single person that you love, and that is really terrifying, but it’s the truth.” Elsewhere in the interview she shares that there is no afterlife in her worldview. How does she cope? I have to know.

Life is as fragile as it is precious. Just reminding myself of this as a I write this makes me want to toss out every little inconvenience I am currently whining about and hug my four adult children. I admit I am a little afraid of that “still point” in the turning world that is the risk of loving people. But love is still worth the risk, don’t you think?


Factors for fears

I apologize to the Edge for being late.

But had I blogged yesterday instead of today, I wouldn’t have been able to include this picture of the arachnid my husband found on a fold on the pool cover this morning. The tarantula had no doubt spent a very long night trapped on an island of plastic. When the sun came up and his exposed body became easy food for hungry hawks, he probably wished, even begged, for someone to come along with a Kerr jar and offer him an avenue to safety.

He probably wasn’t counting on the lid.

In any case, when I strolled into the kitchen this morning, my husband poured me a cup of Caribou Coffee (the best-kept secret we brought out of the Midwest) and he told me he had a new friend. He proudly pointed to the velvet spider, whose ballet legs were stroking the smooth glass of the jelly jar sitting on the kitchen table. I looked closer and the thing rewarded me with a clear view of his fangs.

“The boys are going to love this,” I said to husband. The week before, husband had removed two drowned scorpions from the bottom of the pool, and put them in jars to show the boys (14, 17, and 20). We were all amazed and aghast when a day later, the scorpions (which had been at the BOTTOM of the pool for several days) came back to life and began curling their wicked little tails at us, showing a complete absence of gratitude for having resurrected them.

I didn’t mind sharing my breakfast table this morning with a spider-under-glass and I didn’t overly mind the earlier close proximity of ungrateful scorpions. We let the scorpions go after everyone had a chance to oogle their brilliant nastiness and we will let the tarantula go as soon as The Boyz scare their older sister with it. I mean, show it to their older sister.

These animals, which probably would scare a lot of people -especially other women – don’t really bother me. I don’t mind snakes too much either. Or mice. (I take offense at the stereotypical woman-screaming-on-the-chair while a mouse prances on the tiles below her). And before we recently moved back to California from Minnesota, I insisted any bat caught in our house would be set free outside. No bats would be pummeled to death with a tennis racket in my house.

I am not afraid of bugs or reptiles or spiders.

But suggest a ride on a giant Ferris wheel and I could easily jump on a chair and scream. Put me on any roller coaster outside of Disneyland and I would hyperventilate first and then throw-up. All before the thing took off.

Insist we take a ride up the St. Louis Arch or the Eiffel Tower and I will hug terra firma and yell that you can take me when you can pry my cold, dead fingers off whatever it is I have a death-grip on. I’ve been to the top of the Arch and I will never do it again. I’ve been to the second base of the Eiffel Tower and though I had a ticket to go to the top, I didn’t use it. Couldn’t use it.

This is what I fear. Not bugs, spiders or creepy crawlers. I am afraid of falling. Not heights, exactly. Falling. And there is a difference. I’m not as bad as Dr. Thorndike in “High Anxiety.” I can ride an elevator and fly in an airplane and climb most stairs. But give me a rosy boa instead of a ladder any day. Give me grumpy scorpions instead of a ticket on Wild Thing. Give me a hairy arachnid instead of vertical climb of just about any height.

I don’t know why I’m this way. Am I wired so? Did I have some traumatic childhood experience involving heights that I can’t remember? Are some of us naturally afraid of falling and some naturally afraid of bugs and rodents? Do you get to decide somehow what you will be afraid of? I may have to do a little poking around and get back to you on this.

In the meantime, I will take a photo of the Release of The Tarantula (thank goodness that will require no ladders) and post it here. Hopefully with new insights into what makes us afraid. Feel free to post your own suppositions.