Friday, April 11, 2014

Fear


There are many places that one could go that inspire fear. Trying to stalk into a lion’s hunting ground comes to mind. Or swimming off the coast of Africa where the sharks go airborne when attacking their prey. Honestly, one of my biggest fears, and I am not one to cower at much, is going under a house. Yes, that inspires as much fear in me as facing a black bear with now weapon available. It has something to do with a job I once had in which I had to check the crawl space of a business and just a few feet inside the door was a massive group of black widows. They smothered my coveralls and I could not get out of them quick enough. In fact, I ended up standing there in my underwear running the water hose over my body to wash any of the babies off of me that may have made it past my layers of clothing.
Nothing inspires fear and anxiety as much as the unknown though.
The very nature of the unknown is to provide uncertainty. While gator hunting in Georgia I expected to see alligators. Therefore, the sight and proximity of the gators did not unnerve me. I expected to come face to face with a mountain lion while in Arizona. The mountain lion was what I was after, and the guide explained to me that my shot could very well be from only five yards away from wicked teeth and an angry disposition. In those situations I was fine as it was a known expectation of what was to come.
This fella tried climbing in the boat while hunting in Georgia.
Walking into a closet of an abandoned house I was on my alert for snakes. Not necessarily because snakes had been there before. Mostly because I was young and if something was dark and unknown my mind slithered with snakes in the blackness. I nearly fainted when an opossum hissed with the ferocity of rabies stricken wildcat when I opened the closet door. The unknown and unexpected occurred. To this day, nearly 35 years later if I walk into an old, dark barn, shelter, or house I now expect to see the elongated jaw of a mad opossum to come out of the shadows. And I’m not expecting them to play dead either.
One of the common sayings about the fear of snakes is “I’m not scared of the snakes I can see, it’s the ones I can’t that I’m worried about.” That is me in a nutshell.
From the tree stand, while sitting in the dark waiting for the warmth of sunlight to break the horizon, many strange sounds can be heard. When taking my kids on their first hunts, they were always amazed and a little apprehensive about the shrieks and cries that surround the night. I explained what the different calls were, and on future hunts and camping trips they became accustomed to the noises. But that first instance of the unknown, that was the scary part.
The more we learn, the less we are in the unknown. After all, it becomes a known experience. We become comfortable in the environment that surrounds us and know what to expect.
Except for the owners of that business where I was crawling into the crawlspace. I am sure they will forever be afraid of seeing a grown man dancing around in his underwear while spraying himself off with a water hose.

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