Ocean of Fear

Heart racing, palms sweating, eyes open wide. Fear comes in many forms, whether it’s a small child refusing to fall asleep until the closet is checked for monsters or a woman lying in a hospital bed, knowing her life is ending soon but wondering when the time will come. As writer Paul Tornier states, “Everything that is worthwhile in life is scary. Choosing a school, choosing a career, getting married, having kids-- all those things are scary. If it is not fearful, it is not worthwhile”. In order for people to appreciate some aspects of life, fear is necessary to make the experiences worth one’s time. Every human being has experienced this emotion many times in life. It may be as insignificant as the feelings of butterflies inside a girl’s stomach as she leaves for her first date or as life altering as experiencing extreme terror as a car spirals toward the body of an innocent pedestrian. Each person has his or her own fears that are based on individual environments and various incidents occurring throughout life. As people constantly change and mature, so do the things they fear. Fear is an instinctual emotion that surfaces when danger or challenges arise.

Included in human nature is a survival instinct, embedded deep within the mind that creates a “fight or flight” reflex. Death, pain, heartbreak, failure. All are rational fears that will occur sometime in life. They have a reason to be feared and that trepidation may protect a person from danger. A child may be terrified to go into a lake
because he has not yet learned how to swim. This apprehension of water keeps the child out of harm’s way, until he eventually gains the skills to survive in the water.
A cancer patient sits nervously in her hospital room, awaiting the results of her last test. She sits, shaking, wondering what path God has in store for her life, how long she has left to live. As the doctor enters the room, her heart rate increases, her breathing becomes heavy with anticipation. Finally the dreaded news comes; she has only a few months left to live, a minuscule piece of time to spend with her loved ones. This gives her a reason to be fearful, to ponder when her time will end. After death, one travels into the unknown, the only destination not found in a travel guide.

Failure is additionally a major part of life. Without it, humans would not learn how to improve their behavior from mistakes that were made. Success would not be as rewarding without the sharp contrast of disappointment. Although a person may not want to dishearten family and friends, one can only succeed after failing. Family will love one another no matter how many mistakes are made in a lifetime.

Irrational fears are also found in each person, individualized by surroundings and personal experiences. These are not dangerous to the person, although the unnecessary fears seem logical to the brain. Most unreasonable fears develop due to insecurity of the unknown. Phobias can include a fear of bugs, small spaces, long numbers, strawberry ice cream, and infinite other things. Each phobia is fabricated in a person’s mind, easily overcome if willpower is used. Although the objects may be terrifying to the individual, they are in no way hazardous to the health or well-being of the person.
A child may develop a fear of strawberry ice cream. Every time the mother offers the child a scoop of it, he may begin to scream in terror of the pink color. The child will continue to cry until the mother puts the typically desired dessert away. A fear of pink colored ice cream is completely unreasonable because there is no choking hazard or viable reason to cry at the sight of ice cream, yet the child does anyway.

Another common fear in young children is of the dark. Even though they are in the safety of their own home while going to bed, a child does not feel secure once a parent leaves their bedroom and turns off the lights. Light is a sense of security, allowing the surroundings to be viewed and assuring the child that there are no strangers lurking in the shadows. People need to feel secure in their own homes, permitting them to have a brief refuge from their worries.

New obstacles are faced daily, helping humans to overcome and develop fresh fears. Although this ordinary emotion may be depicted as a weakness, it holds people back from performing dangerous acts and makes the important experiences in life worthwhile. Without the anticipation of a new experience, the outcome will seem dull. Learning to cope with fear is a normal part of life, improving as one matures from a young, helpless child to a strong-minded adult. A feeling of relief is discovered after dealing with this emotion, making the anxiety meaningful. Fear has the power to tear a person apart, turning them into a recluse from society. But, if a person learns how to overcome obstacles and act courageous, a sense of reprieve will make life less stressful for everyone. Fear comes and goes in waves, similar to that of the ocean. Each time the tide comes in, the water is different, just like the ever-changing fears of a person as they mature and adapt to the world.





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