Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Fear: A Necessity

A Continuing Fear

After posting that previous entry on fear last night, I decided that I really wasn't done. I hadn't finished speaking and elaborating on fear. I spoke about what I am afraid of and how I can feed off my own fear when it comes to creating a world in writing. And I know the irrationality of many of my fears and how foolish it is to truly fear anything that isn't happening at this very moment. I even shared an image previously in my first post depicting that "Worry is a misuse of imagination."

That's the one

People are inclined to worry, inclined to fear. A surgeon will still worry about a procedure that he has performed a hundred times before. A student will still worry about a grade when all they've seen are good marks. A good driver will still become nervous when a police cruiser drives behind them.

Though if the cruiser is flying this badge, Fear is the appropriate response

So why do we oft feel fear and worry even when it comes to a situation where we are usually proficient and practiced? Why do we fear the irrational? Well, it's actually pretty simple, pretty much down to our genetics.

Wait, what?

Now, I don't mean that if your parents were Evel Knievels that you'll be all set to drive across the Grand Canyon. What I mean is that we weren't always so comfortable. Man was not always civilized and intelligent, nor are we all intelligent currently. Our ancestors dwelled in caves. They did not "poke" their friends and painted on the walls of their caves not just on each others' birthdays. When it was cold outside, they put on fur and a fire. But, most importantly, they lacked in doors, and caves, I shouldn't have to tell you, are potential safe havens for not just humans.


The early man was a creature of multiple predators. Fear came naturally and was a constant feeling to keep him on his toes. Not feeling fear left his defenses low and left him open to the slaughter by all manner of creatures: lions, tigers, and bears, and maybe even another tribe. It was a time where the creaking of a tree behind could either mean a settling from the wind or a telltale sign of a approaching threat, and it was instinct to opt towards the latter. 


So what does that mean for us? We aren't exactly facing that same threat every time we walk to work for example. We don't carry spears with us in our briefcases as we head to our cubicles anticipating attack. 

Despite the fact that those same threats do not exist for us anymore, we still become overwhelmed with fear. We fear irrational things like the darkness, or more accurately, what exactly could lie within. Despite the years of evolving and losing and gaining traits to make life more bearable, Fear and concern has been far too resilient and, frankly, rather beneficial for us over the millennia. Unlike Wisdom Teeth, fear still has a use with us. 

We all are living fairly comfortable lives, comparatively. But the remaining instinct of defense and fear is still there. It's a reflex and a natural response to one thing: uncertainty. We do not know if there is a creature in the shadows. We do not know if there is a murderer in the woods. We do not know if the cop is going to pull us over. We don't know. We'll never know. And that lack of knowledge opens the mind up to the response that our instincts have always led our ancestors to: Fear. Uncertainty is a path that leads to fear and we can not prevent uncertainty. The only thing we can do is cope and challenge that fear. 

Fear will always be with us, because it will always keep us alive, whether it is telling us to stay on our toes, or we're proving that our fears do not control us. 

Just don't be afraid to admit you're afraid.

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