Concepts in Horror – “Fear the Great Equalizer”
– by C. A. Griffin
Everyone is afraid of something. If they tell you that they’re not of afraid of anything then they are lying. Most of us don’t want to admit what we’re afraid of and that’s okay. Most of us are afraid of more than one thing and feel that admitting as much reveals our weaknesses to the world. That is true. Fear comes in many shapes, sizes, forms, and degrees. It’s as in escapable as death and while we can argue about when we develop our first fear, it is certain that the fears don’t stop until you’re dead.
I used to have quite a number of fears until I found that throwing myself INTO them would help me face them with a calmer attitude. From then on, once I was faced with the horror of something like the sailing the ocean or a flying across it, I would be try to be just a little less afraid. Now, truth be told, I am NOT totally fearless of the sailing or flying across the pacific to reach my home away from home, but I do fear it a bit less each time.
Yeah, you’ve heard it all before – how you should face your fears head on in order to conquer them. Well, soemtimes, when you try to face those fears, they just take on a life of their own and laugh at you like the brave fool you are, making you want to scrurry back to the hem of your mom’s skirt. Come on you can admit it. I know I’ve had those moments. Case in point, I purposefully will NOT take a cruise.
Everyone tells me I should try it…I tell them “Hey, I’ve SEEN Titanic. Helloooooo!!” And unless they start making color coordinated life jackets that my lame but wardrobe conscious behind can wear while I instinctively try to nullify my fear with copious amounts of alcohol, I will not be going on a cruise. NOPE.
I was in Cancun awhile back, at the end of a business trip with my boss and his family. We went to tour Chichen Itza and attempt to climb to the top of one of the ancient pyramids. There we were, along with about a hundred or so other curious tourists from across the globe, looking at this magnificent structure. The stone stairs were worn smooth by the thousands, if not millions, of feet that have climbed up and down its sides. I told my friend Ed, his parents and his daughter that there was NO way I was going to up there. I stood there and was made to feel ashamed when Ed’s cute little four year old daughter followed behind her dad and began to go up. I looked behind me and there were Ed’s parents smiling and encouraging me to follow suit. Damnit. So up I went.
The climb up wasn’t that bad and the view from the top was breath taking. It was like a United Nations day trip up on top of that steep edifice. There were people of all nationalities, speaking in excited voices, posing against the hewn rock walls and snapping pictures. I felt so wonderously proud of myself for making it to the top. This trip was the most exotic and risky trip that I have ever done in my entire life. I was elated…that is until I realized that I had to go down.
This pyramid is so damn steep and the steps so smooth that I knew immediately that my clumsy behind was going to make headlines: “American tourist breaks neck…” I thought about trying to go down the conventional way but the thought walking down those stairs frightened so badly that I actually felt the blood drain from my face. Looking around, I noticed that I wasn’t the only one. There were several other people looking like they wanted to slap themselves for coming up to the top of this ancient wonder.
A couple next to me was having a very serious discussion in another language. She was close to hysterics, he was looking anxious and concerned. It was obvious she was too afraid to make the descent. Hell so was I. Ed and his adorable little daughter, had no such problems, as they were already making their way down…ON FOOT with the agility and speed of mountain goats.
Drawn together by our growning fear, the woman and I exchanged a look. I said to her, “I can’t do this either…” Now she didn’t speak a word of English and I didn’t even know what language she was talking in, Swedish or something, but we understood each other clearly. Gently, her husband caressed her arm as he said something to her and with a nod she walked past me and sat down on the first step and scooted down on her rear. Her movements reminded me of how a toddler scoots down, when first taught about the use of stairs.
She looked over her shoulder at her husband and then at me, motioning for me to do the same and seeing an escape, no matter how silly it looked, I followed behind her. I was so happy that I got giddy. I butt-scooted down those stairs giggling all the way, just like my kids had done when they were growing up.
Ed, his parents and his daughter were hysterical with laughter. I didn’t give a damn. I nearly bent over to kiss the ground but I saw a piece of discarded gum and thought better of it, opting instead to pat the ground in adoration and offer up a prayer of thanks. I never saw that woman again but we had bonded in fear that day. I know that if we were to ever meet again, we would both have that moment of familiarity, where we would be trying to place where we know each other from. Yet, in the deep recesses of our subconscious, where we lock away the things that frighten us the most, our kindred spirits will recall that day of nauseating fear. A feeling of fright so deeply entrenched that it wiped away all boundaries and left only the raw sweaty emotion of fear. Forget food as the thing that draws people together, FEAR will do it everytime and far more quickly than a smorgasbord of food fit for royalty.
FEAR, the great equalizer.
– CAG May 14, 2012