Red Leigh Cooper

Red Leigh Cooper

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Fear is the Mindkiller

    For alot of my friends, Fear is the Mindkiller is an awesome EP by the band Fear Factory, of which I am a huge fan, but the phrase actually comes from elsewhere...

    This phrase comes from the book Dune by Frank Herbert. It's part of the litany against fear which is an incantation used by the Bene Gesserit throughout the Dune series to focus their minds and calm themselves in times of peril. The litany is as follows:
I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer.
Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration.
I will face my fear.
I will permit it to pass over me and through me.
And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path.
Where the fear has gone there will be nothing.
Only I will remain.
     The litany is taught to Paul, Bene Gesserit Lady Jessica's son, who recites it when faced with a test of his ability to deal with immense pain.

     I didn't read the book, but I did watch the movie.  I'm a big David Lynch fan.  However, the litany is shorter in the movie.  While I wonder what it will be like in the remake, I am sad there will be a remake...and if anyone ever touches a John Hughes film I will loose it...but I digress...

     Since I have been taking the "donkey" during the Lenten season (You can take the donkey, or you can take the tram... - February 21, 2012), I have been able to slow down and clearly identify all the little things that may stand in my way of getting to the "rim."   The funny thing about that is my husband, Eric, and I actually had a conversation about Santorini, Greece after that blog. "You know, we could never go to Santorini, Greece...," he said. "What?"  "Well, besides the fact that you are afraid of flying over water, we couldn't take the tram to the top because of your fear of heights."  So in order to stop him right there, and take the focus a little off of my shortcomings I interjected, "...And we couldn't spend 8 hours on the back of a donkey because of both of our backs..."

     Okay, seriously, anyone ever see the movie Airport '77?  They crash in the water, people! Okay this movie came out in 1977 when I was what...9 year old...maybe not the best parenting to let me see this Mom and Dad, but it sure has stayed with me all these years.  Of course if you remember I was also allowed to see see Jaws when I was young and that killed my marine biology career (You have to do math before you do algebra - June 12, 2011).  I think the initial fear of heights came from being made to ride Space Mountain at Disney World when I was, once again, way too young to do so.  I mean c'mon, my first roller coaster ride...then halfway in the dark?  What did you think might happen?  Then there was the time in college I got stuck in an elevator at the top of a seventeen story building with no way out until it finally started descending minutes (which seemed like hours) later.  Oh! Have I mentioned I got stuck in a work elevator two more times after that incident?  This is probably why I'm claustrophobic as well as afraid of heights...

     So, maybe these seem like irrational fears.  I mean the odds of being killed on an airline flight are 1 in 29.4 million.  The odds of getting stuck in an elevator are once in a person's lifetime based on pretty regular elevator use, and well, I'm over my quota!  In addition, the odds of dying on a roller coaster are 1 in 300 million.  While we're at it, the odds of being involved in a shark attack in America are 1 in 10,000,000.

     ....The odds of Jaws showing up in my swimming pool are 0...

     So what the heck?  Aside from the elevator thing, since I'm well over my quota as we assessed, why am I consumed by irrational fears?  For that we have to examine the very elemental properties of fear.

   I learned in dog training that a puppy has to be socialized to seven different kinds of people, places, textures, etc., and make sure they have a good experience doing so.  Why?  Because fear is an innate mechanism designed to help protect them from predators.  It's a survival instinct of sorts.   So, if your puppy grows up never seeing a person in a hat, or if during it's socialization period a person in a hat jumps out at them to scare them, the puppy will have a pretty strong reaction to people in hats and either try to get away or attack essentially.

   So would you probably.  All people have an instinctual reaction to things they think that can possibly hurt them.  People develop their specific fears through exposures, or lack thereof, as well.  Fear in humans often times develops due to a traumatic event... going on a roller coaster in the dark...

   The problem I'm having is not a burning desire to go to Santorini, Greece, no matter how beautiful it is.  I don't really feel like I'm missing out by not riding roller coasters.  The elevator thing, well, it can get in the way, but there are normally stairs if I'm too freaked out.  In fact, I think it's perfectly rational, since I am miss-stuck-in-an-elevator-more-times-than-she-should-be-in-a-lifetime, that I have a little anxiety about elevators.  However, I am noticing other fears that may be hampering or could conceivable diminish my ability to grab the "starfish."  So, I'm going to work them out here, like I do with most things.  Publicly....

    ...and I am going to have to find alot more statistics... 
     Did I mention someone got stuck in the elevator today at work?  So say it with me, "I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer.  Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration.  I will face my fear...."

     Now if someone will just remove Jaws from the swimming pool...

Happy Fishing!


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