On Fear

Ever since I was a kid I’ve been afraid of the dark.  Notice something there. I said “ever since.”  In other words, at the risk of losing my man card via this blog post, I’m admitting I’m still afraid of the dark.

Actually, there are two things that terrify me. Electricity, and the dark.  Electricity terrifies me for a pretty good reason – as a toddler, about 3 or 4, I managed to grab a hold of a faulty electrical transformer that we used when we lived overseas to convert power for our American devices.  The device should have shut off, but it didn’t, and what occurred afterward was rather terrifying. Some people say when bad events happen it can appear as a “blur” or be remembered as such. Not me. Even though I was a young toddler, I can still close my eyes to this day and remember starring down at my hand as my skin melted off my bone from the electrical charge. I remember my brother reacting quickly, in essence probably saving my life.  Surgeries and skin grafts later, I still have pain in one of my fingers from the graft occasionally, and I can’t write very long with a pencil or pen without arthritis-like pain. Most people actually notice my deformed index finger on my right hand before they do the graft itself. Thank God for small miracles like keyboards.

Anyways, If you took that above paragraph to any psychologist, they’d probably say it was pretty normal for me to have deep rooted fear of electricity.   Giving that I work in IT, it’s often hard for me to avoid it, but I do when I can.  I literally start shaking when I have to manipulate 208V power in the Datacenter – it’s just not something I like to do.

But getting back to my first confession – the dark?  I don’t really have a good story for that one.  As I have gotten older, it’s sort of morphed into an uneasiness more than outright terror.  As a child, I couldn’t stand being in a completely dark room.  My mind would immediately start wandering, and images would pop up in my head.  I’d feel the darkness, in a way I guess, more than just “see” it.  I often wondered as a kid if I was being haunted.  Looking back, it might all seem a little silly, but maybe not.  I’m a firm believer in Ghosts, but that’s a topic for another post, I think.

I’m still the most comfortable today with a small light in my bedroom.  I never like it to be completely pitch black.  In the middle of the night, I often walk at a very fast pace to turn on a light when I walk across our dark house.  Doing it, I always feel silly and embarrassed, even though I know nobody is watching. But I don’t care, I just don’t like it.  I’ve shared this with others on a far-less public medium, and they all say that if I wanted to, I’d probably be able to get to the root of my fear.

So here’s the real kicker – I don’t want to know why I’m scared of the dark.  Not one bit.  The mysteriousness of a grown man being afraid of the dark has opened up a level of inspiration to a whole new avenue.  As I write this, I’m working on compiling years of work and brainstorming of what will probably be my first attempt at a novel.  It might fail horribly and never see the light of day with any publisher – but truth be told – this blog included, I don’t write particularly for anyone else but myself.  Any writer who is honest will tell you that writing is mostly a self-serving art, even if enjoyed by others.

As I write my story, my main protagonist is terrified of the dark, but not for the reason you would ultimately expect.  As I’ve been writing it, I’ve been discovering things about myself I didn’t even know.  Reliving memories long, long forgotten.  That’s the beauty of being a writer, especially an formally untrained one… You learn inspiration in the weirdest places.  I’m sure if I had a degree in Creative Writing, some class would have me writing about my fears as a source of inspiration on page 52 of “Sharping Your Writing Skills Workbook.”

I guess I just did just that.

So what are you afraid of? Tell me, I’m curious. Maybe I’ll find inspiration in it.

For me? Lights on tonight, dear readers..

– Grant

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