Everyone, every single person in this room, has felt fear. It is a debilitating state of being, which can grab you from the back at any given time. We have evolved into a machines, which spit out products obviously born of terror. Why else do we put bright attention signs on wet floors, carry pepper spray for the late night route, or hang fire extinguishers in every room, in every building? Why would we, as a species of masterminds, be influenced so heavily by something as trivial as fear?
What is fear which so effectively brings us, the indestructible race, to our knees because of something like the dark? Or heights? Or speeches?
Fear is one of six main emotions – happiness, sadness, anger, disgust, surprise, and fear. Happiness, sadness, and anger, we believe, are a part of life, and this isn’t a lie. These three make up the mechanisms of the consciously thinking mind, and the heart of a healthy, sentient soul. Disgust and surprise work as protection from both the foul milk hiding in our fridge to the very happy (or very grave) event of people hiding in the dark of our homes. Fear, meanwhile, is seen to be shrouded in doubt. The question becomes this: why has fear become an inborn trait amongst the living?
Amir, from Khaled Hosseini’s the Kite Runner, ran away from his chance to save Hassan because he feared suffering the same gruesome fate as his best friend. He ended up “damning” himself. Macbeth slaughtered those who were once his allies, those who were once his friends, out of fear of losing his power. He ended up getting beheaded! What is the purpose of fear, then if its product is only devastation? Why must we, the perfectly smart, awesomely accomplished human beings, suffer because of the wiring in our heads?
What are we so afraid of?
I remember, once, I was about eleven or twelve. I was walking home from the park. It didn’t really matter that the sun had almost set, because my house was only three minutes from where I was, tops. I was walking home, and I look behind me. There was this tall, hooded figure, walking about ten paces from me. I can see it now, the perfect silhouette against the inky blue sky, already speckled with stars. All I could feel was the gripping sensation of fear, curling around my body and squeezing me so tight I could scarcely breathe, like a python. I subconsciously started writing my will in my head, as if something- God, Karma, or even Zeus– would listen.
I look back and I just think- it was probably just a conveniently tall dude who was going the same way as I was, no big deal. But the point isn’t that my gripping fear at the time was completely unfounded. It was that my gripping fear at the time was completely instinctual.
What did I, an eleven year old girl with pigtails and an ‘I ❤ Fred Weasley’ badge imagine would happen? Injury? Abduction? Rape? Probably. But it all came down to one thing, one thing which rules the heads of all creatures in this sorry world, the conclusion of all our anxieties- death.
The end of human experience. The unknown.
We can do all the research, we can answer all our ponderings, discover everything which our universe has to offer, and we can travel to ‘infinity and beyond’, but there will always be that question. The question.
Is death the end?
It is this question which has driven us out of our dark caves and into the bright light of innovation. It is this question which has so effectively made us afraid of what would happen if we didn’t immunize ourselves with medicine. It is this question, this fear of the unknown, which has forced us to wonder and seek more beauty in this ‘sorry world’, and make ourselves better, all for the comfort that we can put off the inevitable end of our lives.
Our ancestors were afraid. They were afraid of the dark and its very real potential for concealing deadly predators in its depths. It’s result? Survival. Fear is the inborn, pure desire to live. We create, we imagine, we fear so we can motivate ourselves to truly carpe diem. If life was the horse, fear is the saddle and its reins which keeps us on top, riding our way through the jungle which stands in the way of our true life destinations.
Fear. We have all been host to it, and it’s always dwelling deep in our guts. Every single one of us is susceptible to this, which seems horrid and sometimes unfair- but it makes us work harder every day, and accomplish the impossible before Death arrives on our doorsteps.
The result of fear isn’t devastation. Not always. Fear is our motivation to innovate and save ourselves.
On that note, I ask only one more question of all of you, and your answer lies within your own opinions – can fear be what holds you back, or what pushes you forward?