Friday, October 18, 2013

The autumn moon travels tonight .... I do not

President Franklin Roosevelt often is cited as the author of the famous quote: "The only thing we have to fear, is fear itself." Actually, he borrowed the words, or, at least, the concept/thought, from Sir Francis Bacon or, possibly, from Michel de Montaigne or, possibly, from some other figure who lived generations ago. (Hmmmm, yes .... the "Essays" of Montaigne. Some of them still lurk in the caverns of my memory from a college class in world literature.) Back on point: Roosevelt was speaking of the Great Depression and economic stability when he uttered those words, which might make sense. Other fears are more real and others still more vibrant and terrifying even if they are not part of an individual's reality. For instance, take the illustration here from the motion picture "Jaws." This image, this thought, this nightmare, set a new standard for conceptual fear when the film was released in 1975, a year after Peter Benchley's novel with the same title was published. Moving on to today's music, it is not connected to the post in any particular way I can see, which is unusual. I like strings attaching the illustrations, the words and the music within my posts. I suppose the song simply reflects the melancholy mood which frequently is part of me these days -- a mood which I somehow need to leave behind me.

Fear of no fear

A young lady once told me she is afraid to swim in deep water. Until that time, which actually was only a year or two ago, the thought had never occurred to me to be afraid while swimming in deep water.

I have swum both above and below the surface in water I knew to be about three hundred feet deep in the Pacific Ocean. I have swum both above and below the surface in the deepest water of Lake Superior. It is a bit more or less than thirteen hundred feet, depending upon whose measurement is believed. Three of us did it one sunny, summer afternoon just to be able to say we had done it. Although being in water nearly a half-mile deep stirs the senses, I never gave those swims a second thought while they were taking place, and the Pacific excursion included night swims as well as in the daylight.

What always has bothered me in this regard, though, has been swimming and diving in prairie lakes and rivers. It is not unusual to encounter water where visibility ranges from a murky foot or two to literally nothing. I mean, press your hand onto your face mask and you will see it; move your hand back an inch or two and it has disappeared from sight. Add to that swimming in water uncomfortably cold and in which you are passing through different temperature zones as you move from one depth to another. I would not say I am afraid to do this because I have done it countless times. But, I am always glad when I have reached the surface again.

So, where am I going with this?

The concept of fear has been on my mind. My own fear, I mean. What are most people afraid of .... what am I afraid of .... what are the psychological advantages and disadvantages of experiencing fear?

This, probably, is the circle my mind has been travelling in recent weeks when thinking and writing about suicide, fear of heights, fear of swimming in deep water, primeval fear of any manner. Then, too, from my perspective, there are both physical fear of actuality -- being afraid of heights, for instance, or the outcome of major surgery -- and psychological fear experienced only within the mind/imagination -- fear of the dark, is an example, or of existing for eternity in hell.

Put simply, I am trying to think of something to be afraid of -- something I still fear. And, I can think of nothing -- not even what might be just below the surface in deep, deep water.

This is not to say I cannot be startled at times, but I put that into a different category than fear. Being startled is a knee-jerk reaction to the unexpected; fear is like paranoia in a sense. It is a real and a constant ingredient in a person's psyche but, while strong in some, is virtually non-existent in others.

Do I fear the loss of fear? Would such loss pose a threat to my existence in the form of inability to sense actual danger, or would it be a positive trait?

I suppose it could go either way and, maybe, someday I will know.

Time provides the answers to most questions we ask of ourselves about ourselves when we cannot see beyond the present.


Kelly J. Call said...

The heavens are endless, the highways take us places both familiar and unknown...

I wonder, perhaps the tip of the triangle is in the picture below? Hmmmmmmmmmm...

Fear keeps us traveling in circles and wondering and never really flying. Better to fly. You never know what you may find at the end of the rainbow :-)

Lose the fear, maintain a healthy dose of skepticism and you will soon see beyond the present.

Although then again, the future may put you right back into scary-mode!

What's a cowboy to do?

The key to dodging sharks is don't splash too much, don't wear yum-yum yellow and no cuts! Then you can swim with the best of them :-)

Fram Actual said...

The key to dodging sharks is to avoid salt water swimming, maybe.

I recall reading about a Great White killing a swimmer off La Jolla a year or two ago, and I thought about the number of times I had been in the waters there and around San Diego back during my USMC "glory years." Better to roam with Kodiak, grizzly and polar bears where a rifle can provide an edge.

I was about to shut off comments for this post under my twenty-four hour rule when I arrived to see your words here, Ms. Call. Thank you. I seem to be frightening people away these days, although my posts really are no more weird than they ever have been.

Hey, nearly three months after the storm and five weeks after I made a $5,000 down payment for repairs/renovation to the house, a crew is slated to arrive on Monday to replace the shingles. When the siding will be replaced remains a mystery. It is almost a joke. Temperatures will drop below freezing next week and there is the potential for snow.

That stuff is worry. A family situation currently part of my life is worry. I need these obstacles to be gone so I can pursue the things I have not pursued in the past. I feel like the last six years have been a circle I cannot break free of, although I have tried. Being trapped in the maze I find myself in might be the final fear for me.

As for cowboys, this one wants to go out with his boots on .... no more, no less.

Before I keep rambling on forever, I will simply say I am glad you came to visit me here, Kelly.

Kelly J. Call said...


A Cuban In London said...

I have always been afraid of deep waters. As the saying goes, "still waters run deep". And that depth makes you imagine things you don't want to imagine. Then again I only learnt how to swim in my teens and I'm not a very good swimmer, sadly.

Paradoxically (or maybe not, since I am a Scorpio, extremes, you see?), I am attracted to deep waters. There's nothing more I like that watching the sea, from the shore of from a boat, it doesn't matter, I can spend hours contemplating it, especially when it's really deep.

Greetings from London.

Fram Actual said...

I have been aboard significant ships "on big water in deep water" a few times, including U.S. Navy vessels, Great Lakes ore carriers and a passenger cruise ship. When I think about it, I have been in these places in some pretty small craft, too, right down to a canoe -- and, as I wrote in my post, swam in them, too. My point is that I have greatly enjoyed and loved these experiences, and am on record as saying (and, sort of believing) that if I could "do it all over again," I would opt for a life at sea.

I think many of us are attracted to and fascinated by the sea -- using the term here to imply any body of water of considerable size and depth -- and generally feel like we belong to it and, in some ways, are part of it.

It might be Freudian to say I think deep waters draw deep thoughts from our minds, such as the concept you expressed, CiL,but it is somehow true. Our emotions often follow the action of the sea when we are near to it -- whether it brings out awe at the power of a storm or fear of what lies below the surface or serenity from watching gently rolling waves.

Or, returning to Sigmund Freud -- and, as I once wrote in a paper regarding Lawrence Durrell's, "The Alexandria Quartet," as an exercise in a literature class -- those gently rolling waves might be symbolically suggestive of making love. I think I will stop with that observation ....

Thank you, CiL, for coming by and for writing your thoughts here. I appreciate them.

Something special ....