Recently I was asked by a complete stranger what my biggest fear was. I thought it was a slightly intrusive question. To me, talking about my biggest fears is like talking about sex. Both topics will lead me to regret what I said later---oh why did I say that, that was way out of line.
Anyway, I told her my biggest fear is heights, which is true. I have suffered from vertigo many times. The worst time was when I was doing the bridge climb on the Sydney Harbor Bridge. That's not a good time to realize you have a problem with high places. There was air, lots of air, lots of air, and then the water, and the guide had to tell us about the guys who fell off the bridge while they were building it. Fortunately, I have a picture of me up on the bridge with the opera house behind me, so I never have to do it ever again.
Sometimes, the vertigo comes up when I'm hiking. I might be hiking down a hill, and suddenly I stop. I can't go any farther. I might fall down onto the ground, and there will be rocks, and it will hurt. It will hurt a lot. Usually, when I'm hiking, I can talk myself out of my irrational fear or else just proceed on my butt.
I thought about the woman's question late into the night. Fortunately, I am not afraid of the dark. Being a person of action, I decided to sit down and make a list of everything I was afraid of. What do I really fear? I tried to stay away from things that repulsed me, but I did fear repulsive things attacking me. But wouldn't one naturally fear anything attacking them? Okay, I think I can say that my TV will not attack me. Actually, pretty much any inanimate object will not attack me of its own free will.
This whole potential attack thing is pretty irrational to me. My happiness comes from my ability to move freely in the world. I am not a super spy. I can't save the world. I am just a person. I might get hit by a bus tomorrow, but that's tomorrow. I have no control over the future.
The future. I looked at my fear list again and realized that many of my fears were about the future. What if. . I hope I don't. . . Always in motion is the future. Oedipus knew his fate, and he still made a mess of it. The only way to be safe from the future is to put ourselves into little boxes. What are those little boxes called? Oh yeah, coffins.
But what is safety? What is there really to fear? As for the future, bring it on. As for my fear list, I folded it up, folded it again and again and again until it became a stiff thick wad with sharp edges. I then flushed it down the toilet. My fears are disintegrating in the sewage and eventually heading out to sea.