Nerves are to hardware, as behavior is to software. As we feel pain, we feel fear. Call it an insurance policy financed through the trials of evolutionary processes. These senses serve as sentinels in order to guard their host’s life. Likewise, their existence is preserved. Fear is something shared with all sentient beings. It is not a giant leap to venture that though its existence is sprung from the wells of human nature, its intoxicating effects are as luminous as the night sky. A common chord I strum focuses on belief, yet fear has primal roots nested in the framework that behavioral software is mapped onto.
A person’s first experience with the cognition of fear likely induces various levels of emotional trauma throughout the subject‘s psyche – and the door closes behind it. Fear imprints itself on the mind within a matter of seconds, yet the effects may last a lifetime. Due to the complex construction of the brain, fear is both innate and learned. Imagine the expression on a newborn’s face at birth. At this level, fear operates within a network of other innate tendencies, or, instincts. The being was torn from routine, comfort, warmth, and security only to see it has fallen away. Not that the baby can cognitively digest all of this, but the disturbance pulses out shockwaves of stimuli, nonetheless. The point is, the fear instinct activates and becomes operational. We are born with it – entangled by its snare.
Throughout developmental progression, particular compromises are made in relation to our fears. Personally, I experienced two early childhood traumas that occurred well before I could utilize fear to my benefit. At the age of two, my neck was pierced with a rod of construction steel that halted just two inches from my heart. All I can recall is everyone’s panic as they set me up on a table, while I struggled to breathe in shock. I was in and out of the intensive care unit for roughly six months. I don’t remember much, but my mother said I was constantly pulling tubes out of me and the physicians weren’t very fond of that. I had an intense fear of hospitals, doctors, clinics, and all things medical afterward. Yet, this fear was not a conscious one. Honestly, the fear baffled me, but I never spoke of it because I felt ashamed. Around the time I passed puberty up, the fear drifted away. I can shrug my shoulders now, but trembling clammy hands spoke of my reaction – my little hell. The age of two was unique for this lad – as, the neck puncture was only one of the traumas I suffered at the time.
I was the youngest of three boys in my family being raised by a hardworking single mother. My brothers both attended school while my mother worked as a waitress. Likewise, I had to go off into a separate little corner of the world that suited me at the time – the baby sitter. Again, I don’t remember much about stealing her dog’s bone that day, but my face was gashed open apparently. I still bear the scar on my brow. Again, as with the hospital, I grew up with an irrational (in my mind) fear of dogs. This fear took more than my first razor shave to defeat. I don’t care what you’ve heard – dogs smell fear. Fact. Needless to say – I ran, I hopped fences, and I peddled the tires of my bike. Everywhere I turned, it seemed like dogs chased me. I was bitten repeatedly. About the age of fifteen (precisely after my last dog encounter), I decided that I wasn’t running anymore. I told myself that my kindness needed to hit a wall. I was tired of being afraid. I was sick of the bites and the flutter of panic in my chest. Trust me, I did not seek out battles, but I needed this. The next time a dog crossed my path, it didn’t charge at me at all. I stood still, though, my chest thumped like tribal drums. I waited as the canine lowered its head and its nose whiffed the air with caution, yet it kept its distance.
The stink of fear rising up off of me must have been appetizing, but my foot was primed to stomp skull. I wonder if that grazed the animal’s scent receptors. That moment was worth thanking the dog that had scarred my face for. The battlefield was my mind that day – where the war was both fought and won. My fear was the real beast. This was my introduction to the nature of fear. And, rather than a stomach that felt as if swimming in battery acid, I felt a fire in my veins that day. My next fear was heights. After that, I took on my greatest enemy – hallucinogens. I am still weaving through that one. Tales for other days…