Fear is a choice

Fear is a choice
published: (updated: )
by Harshvardhan J. Pandit
fear philosophy

“Fear is not real.

It is a product of thoughts you create.

Do not misunderstand me.

Danger is very real.

But fear is a choice.”

Each and every night, as I get up and walk from my bed to the bathroom, it’s total dark. Shadows cross the walls as a stray car passes outside. The boiler stutters and resumes its process. Some neighbor absently bangs on the wall. Each step of mine creaks on the wooden floor. And as I hold my hand on the handle at the door, I wonder, what if, just what if… there’s an alien inside.

There’s this innate fear, of the dark, of being alone, of a great many things. But it all starts with that one small seed planted somewhere within the mind. For me, it’s a rational process. What’s the most likely unspecified entity beyond the door. An alien of course. Rather than ghosts, ghouls, monsters or zombies, it’s aliens that have the most probabilistic measure of being true. But then of course, why would an alien be present in MY bathroom? Out of all the places, it decides to land here. Why? It manages to do so by evading all the telescopes and satellites and surveillance equipment put up in space by humans. Not likely. Ergo, it shouldn’t be really there. But what if, just what if… it really is? Well then, I’ll open the door, find out, and then decide. Till then, there’s no point in fearing about it.

The same goes for every time I walk in a dark place. I’d rather fear someone attacking me, someone human, than think about the other possibilities. I think left to one’s own devices, the human mind comes up with the most deterrent response to avoid the dark. Call it the instinctive ability to survive. There are loads of studies on this. With more imagination comes more fears. Those who are well versed with zombies don’t fear them, they know how to defeat them (if really), but those who are afraid to face them, are the ones who fear them. It’s really the fear of the unknown, the shapeless, the dark. It’s like Rorschach’s Test. You leave a person in a dark room, and he’ll invent monsters out of thin air, just to give shape to his fear.

Fear is inevitable. It’s a biological, psychological response and there’s nothing much one can do about it. But one can control or try to control one’s thoughts and go on about it in a rational process. Like every time I am faced with a fear, I objectively deduce that’s the likelihood of that happening is far too less. And then, why all of a sudden should I be faced with something? It’s absurd to fear something just because. So I wait till that door is open and see actually that there’s nothing inside.

I did an experiment this week. I read about aliens, like, a lot. Watched some programs on TV. Seen some horror movies. All kinds. Anything and everything to frighten me. There have only been two incidents so far. The last night, I dreamed about confronting zombies. These were ones based on Mira Grant’s NewsFlesh trilogy. And I managed to fight them, not get bitten, and reach home. I even fancied myself to be immune based on the character of Shaun in the novel. The night before that, I dreamed aliens had come visiting. There was no absurd phenomenon. The alien craft came, hovered about our kitchen window. And a small alien creeped outside and landed in our kitchen. My response was to rush at it and strangle it with my hands. It screamed, but no sound came out. I let it go, and (absurdly!) tried to scare it off with a large teddy bear. I woke up later with my heart beating far too loudly, and my body pumped full of adrenaline. I was too shocked at the feeling, and never managed to turn my head to look around the room.

When I later thought about it, I found some interesting facts. There was nothing ‘scary’ in the typical sense about the aliens coming, or the zombies rising. In both cases, I managed to not get hurt, make them retreat or leave me, and was OK. Also, people weren’t dying, there was no gore, no probing, no silly stuff. I realized later on, that the ‘fear’ that I thought I had woken up with, was actually excitement. Of fighting. I was fighting in the dream when I woke up. So it wasn’t a nightmare even though it sure felt like one. Another interesting fact is that, never, has it happened that I have been hurt in my dreams. Physically that is. I’ve fallen off cliffs, been shot at, had dead falls from the sky, been in a fight with zombies and aliens, found myself in a haunted house, in a virtual game with rockets fired at me, but never hurt. It’s like there’s a mental block (thank you, Professor X!) that stops my dreams from being anything but entertainment to me. It’s fascinating.

I think it’s because I think about it in real life too. I always dismiss monsters, ghosts, demons, aliens, and all sorts of things being present in a dark room. Of course, I’m afraid to step into the blackness, but it’s purely a thought. I can think it over, I can brush it aside, I can have a rational discussion with myself to convince me that there’s nothing really there. If mankind ever had their dreams come true, most would die with their nightmares. Not me though! I’d have a gala time!

What about you, (those who are reading this, of course) what do you fear and feel when going into a dark place or a closed room? What’s your response to it? How do you convince yourself about it? Do you think fear is a choice?