Live In a State of Constant Panicked Anticipation.

Fear. Scary isn’t it. It stops us doing things we’d otherwise like to do and in some cases encourages to do things we know we probably shouldn’t. We all have fear in us, some of it rational and some of it we refer to as phobias. defines a phobia as a persistent, irrational fear of a specific object, activity, or situation that leads to a compelling desire to avoid it. So sitting in your bedroom in the dark, concerning yourself with the perceived danger of a plane crashing through the ceiling is a phobia, whereas sitting on that burning plane, fretting about your imminent demise while you plummet towards the ground, watching the wings fade into tiny, smouldering dots in the distance, is not. Context is important here, very important indeed.

I have Arachnophobia. Now, in this country I’m comfortable with the phobia label. I’m very unlikely to come to any harm from a British spider, some of them bite and some may have the potential to cause some harm but in 29 years of worrying I’ve never experienced any violence or danger from our eight legged brethren. The most unnerving thing that accompanies the sight of a spider is the anguished, high pitched, feminine squeak, and I’m pretty sure that’s me. What I’m saying is it’s an irrational fear. Plonk me in Australia and I would prefer to refer to my loathing as a statistically relevant wariness. Their spiders are terrifying, they are big of size and thick of appendage, with pin sharp fangs and an intense hatred of human life. They’re bastards, their spiders. So when in Rome, or Australia, it’s not a phobia, it’s a genuine, reasoned distrust. It’s a similar set up with the fear of heights, or Vertigo, as it’s often incorrectly called. It seems to me that not liking the idea that you could fall, becoming a thin paste on impact, is fine. That seems normal. When you’re high up, that likelihood is increased. If you were stood on a line graph where the x axis is increasing altitude and the y axis is increasing fear, you’d be more scared the further to the right you went, which would take you higher still. The graph goes up. Never mind.

A lot of people believe that fear, especially phobias, should be conquered. That they are a weakness keeping you from goals, triumphs and glory, restricting your ever so important, delicate branches from fully extending. Well, my greatest fear would have to be being trapped on the back of an incredibly tall spider, surrounded by hundreds of smaller spiders below, just wishing that I’d fall. Do I fancy conquering that fear? No. Fear is a gentle little reminder that lots of things are, or could be, somewhat detrimental to your existence, programmed in by millennia of trial and error. The primordial ooze tried jumping off the primordial bridge, attached only to a thin, elasticated primordial cord, agin and again, through an unthinkable number of evolutionary stages, so that hundreds upon hundreds of generations later you’d know it was a stupid thing to do. Though it is fairly obvious anyway. Sure, it’s irritating to be scared of some things: approaching attractive members of the opposite sex, driving, school children in trench coats, public speaking, humus. But we are right to fear some things: death, venomous creatures, terminal illness, fast moving traffic, large groups of drunk men in sports themed tops, Hollyoaks. These things are going to be bad for you, especially death, and your body and mind very kindly tell you this by turning your stomach inside out and making you fiddle incessantly with your napkin.

I’ve decided to embrace my fears, partly because it’s that or stay inside, but mostly because it’s sensible. I’m quite attached to me, so if I have to put up with a few unwarranted concerns in return for valid concerns keeping me away from stuff that might hurt, then so be it. Besides, what’s the alternative? Rope free climbing? Lightened hair with frosted tips? Inability to spell the word ‘extreme’ properly? Jumping out of aircraft in stupid all-in-ones? Red Bull? Fuck that. I don’t want to die dressed like an idiot with stupid hair. I probably could do most of the things that terrify me and I could well end up fine, but nothing would have been achieved and I would be no better for it. Should you want to chuck yourself out of a plane, for no reason other than the larks, then go ahead. I like to think of it as natural selection being interfered with by sheets of nylon, if it wasn’t for the advancements in fabric technology, sky diving would be much riskier. Bloody nylon.

So then. Fear. It’s a good thing, I think we can agree.

Keep it with you, use it wisely. Listen to it, because it knows a thing or two about doing what you’re thinking about doing, and you’re an idiot. It’s ok, so am I, it’s just that I’m one of the blessed children gifted with both wilful stupidity and confident cowardice. I know: you wish. You can work towards it though, you can. And one day, when all of the Air-Carz fail, dropping like electrocuted wasps, one by one from the sky – their inhabitants frozen in an eternal, fleeting moment of the screaming terror in the second before a crushing, searing, metal splintered end – you can smile smugly from way back behind the safety rope. Your own one that you bought with you from home. Safe in the knowledge that being afraid afforded you the opportunity to be safe in some knowledge and smile smugly again next time.

Live my friends.


But live in a state of constant panicked anticipation.

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