Monday, April 16

on fear

I am still not over my ruminating these days, so bear with me. Not too long ago, a good friend asked, what is your greatest fear? This question has been asked of me a lot before. I swear I must have answered it countless times in our class essays, but I don’t recall whatever it was I wrote, or if indeed I wrote about it at all. I’ve always suffered from chronic absentmindedness, and I think that I could not be trusted with memory. I better get used to writing my thoughts down. There are a few morsels of my past that are committed to my mind without my even trying to, and oddly, I do remember things vividly from when I was but a fledgling two years old. But my mind plays tricks on me, and sometimes I doubt if these things really happened or did my imaginings evolve from some movie I randomly saw.
In the real world, I would forget what it was I said ten minutes ago. I really am quite spaced out when it comes to remembering things, especially that it would sometimes appear like I tell white lies and I end up bungling my thoughts. Eventually, I get to swallow my own bitter pill. And God knows how many times I’ve made a horrendous faux pas by blurting out things in the middle of conversation that I shouldn’t have because I have totally forgotten that I shouldn't. By then it was too late to take the words back and I wish the earth would open up where I was standing, and swallow me to the ground forever. So, obviously that is one of my worst fears. My irredeemable freudian slips.
But there are bigger ones. All of us have our own primal fears, rational or irrational. I had mine, too. From the moment I have recognized dreams, I was maybe six years old, I have had to contend with gargoyles and witches, and snakes and cold-bodied rodents, that plague my sleep. I have been bullied and chased to earth’s end. As a teenager, I lived in constant fear of flunking exams and losing my scholarships, and I crammed throughout my studying years. When I started working in manila, I never missed work even if I literally had to wade through flooded streets, on the monsoon season, because it is unthinkable to be alone, unemployed and penniless. Generally I had fear of people rejecting me and that’s probably why I keep a sort of emotional wall, to fend off from vultures that prey on my vulnerabilities, when in truth it is my own menacing phantom that rile inside me. Now as a mother, I do not fear for myself much, but for the people I love. Don’t we all? Our fear doesn’t just go away, it crosses over to people we now have responsibility over.
However, the thing that I fear most is dying a violent death. There are nights that I watch the news on television and the world’s evils and tribulations leave images so intense and appalling in my mind, that I would dream of them afterwards. A car crash, earthquake, tsunami, drowning in the sea, snake bites, monsters---I swear they have given me the arctic chills and fever, even while I sleep beside my family in a sweltering tropical heat. You are never more alone than in your nightmares and I fear that one morning, people would find me stiff as I have died in my sleep trying to free myself from a vampire’s deadly grip and kiss. Some nightmare…but I’d rather have the gall to wake up to reality and discover to my horror that the world is still the same cruel place. Seriously, abortion, incestuous rape, robbery, mass murder, feuding nations at war, abject poverty, and natural disasters---they swirl around in my subconscious like giant twisters that no matter how I try to see them with a feeling of disdain and self-imposed distance, I can’t help but feel that gnawing feeling that death lurks somewhere behind, ready to stake a claim anytime on any unwitting soul who happens to be close by.
I may talk about death, unfazed, as I have in fact rationalized about it many times in my blog, in a sound which others may find a little morbid, save for a tinge of sadness here and there. But death is sadistic, and all our theological heroics will mean nothing when it happens. It is nothing that we can welcome gladly unless we’ve been suffering so much all our lives that it is better to end it and be done with it at once. Life with suffering is meaningful, and if there is nothing to suffer for, it would bother us a great deal. And that’s why there is the paradox of the suicides. But so is dying violently or without warning, when there is so much yet to live for, and suffer. I may not be in accordance with everyone. Sadly, we create our own danger and dying is bound to happen, like it or not. But the only way I can muddle through this fear is to accept it, and have a quick dab at optimism. So hey, it's not so bad. In the mind, we too can strengthen our resolve, that we can dart through this world for a few fleeting moments and seize the chance to enjoy life as it is.
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