I’m squeamish when it comes to scary movies. For Halloween, I eschew costumes featuring fake blood in favor of those that require heavy eyeliner (a la Cleopatra). I couldn’t even get through the DaVinci Code with all its references to self-flagellation and such. In other words, I’m a bit of a chicken.
Still, I understand the value of a good dose of fear once in awhile. It helps us grow by prompting us to delve deeper into our personal well-spring of courage and possibility. What’s more invigorating than looking down into a deep, unknown abyss and diving in, only to emerge on the other side thinking, Gee, that wasn’t so bad? I choose to tempt fate (or, at least, adrenaline) through athletic activities, as outlined in my “Letter to My Friend, Fear” following a bicycle trip in France last fall. More recently, I’ve committed to taking up the sport of snowboarding, despite feelings of sheer terror and nausea on the chair lift up the mountain and a quivering lower lip while standing at the top looking down a daunting slope. OK, so maybe it was the bunny hill; look, fear is relative, people!
That much is certain. Fear is indeed relative. Millions of people loved the DaVinci Code, and yours truly couldn’t get past the first 40 pages. I have a pal who plays professional football, wherein some of the largest, fiercest, fastest athletes in the world literally attempt to flatten him into the ground (hmmm, sounds like my snowboarding wipe outs) on a weekly basis, and you know what terrifies him most? Clown makeup. Yup. He can handle the rubber nose and the floppy shoes, but my brawny friend is overcome by waves of anxiety when people paint their faces. He once had an altercation with a college teammate who went a little too far with the eye black just to yuk it up in the locker room.
So, all you scaredy cats and Buffy the Vampire Slayer buffs out there, tell us: what spooks you most, or how do you conquer your fears?