Tag Archives: Fear

The Cupboard Mice: A Parable

Mice_(1)Originally posted on February 21, 2013.

A family of mice once lived in a drafty old farmhouse.

“They’re going to set a trap and we’re all going to die!” the oldest mouse squeaked every time someone forgot the rules: no squeaking, don’t leave droppings on the dishes, and never capture the cat’s attention. No one remembered what a trap was any longer, only that it was something terrible people did when they noticed mice.

As the family grew it became more difficult to follow the rules.

“We’ll be safe in this house if we teach the young mice that cheese is forbidden,” the oldest mouse insisted every time the humans shuffled into the kitchen. They’d lived in this farmhouse for decades and had begun to have trouble moving around.

A young mouse asked, “What makes you think there’s any danger? The humans don’t even seem to know we exists.”

“Not yet,” said the oldest mouse. “But the cat can smell us. Why do you think we avoid his territory?”

The young mouse wasn’t sure she believed it was that dangerous and decided to explore the rest of the house. The cat in question was old and docile.

“You’re all going to die!” insisted the oldest mouse as the rest of her nestlings slowly moved out of the kitchen and closer to the radiators. The humans had grown accustomed to leaving dirty plates on the floor and so the wanderers had food and a warm place to sleep during the long winter. Soon she was the only mouse left in the kitchen.

Every week or two the younger mice came to visit. She always made sure they knew how dangerous their lives had become since moving away. Some of her visitors smiled politely and nibbled the stale crackers she provided, others tried to gently reason with her. No one could change her mind, though, and she died at the first flush of spring without any of her warnings coming to pass.

 

The Cycle of What If

Photo by Songbird developers.
Photo by Songbird developers.

What if I’d gotten bad pills…

What if they didn’t work correctly…

What if. What if. What if.

“Stop reading and go to bed,” Drew said late last night. I’d just found out that a medication I’m on was recalled and all of my googling was spiralling in circles. The nice thing about being with someone for as many years as we’ve been together is that we know one another better than anyone on earth.  I listened to him and went to bed. This morning I had the pharmacy double check my medication.  There was no reason to worry after all.

“So if we bomb Syria, does that mean it’s WWIII and we’re all gonna die? Or am I jumping the gun?”- @tmamone

Yesterday afternoon this tweet jumped out at me. In the short time I’ve known Travis I’ve come to truly appreciate his serious, contemplative approach to life. He always has something interesting to say about current events.

I don’t know what will happen in the future. No one does. But I do know that What Ifs can easily inflate worrisome thoughts rather than deflate them. And worrying doesn’t change what will or has already happened.

 

The Internet is not a Four-Letter Word

Over the last year or so some of the most popular search terms for this blog have been related to whether or not the Internet is good for our social skills.

I’ve had an online presence since the spring of 1999 and ever since then have heard the same arguments against spending time online trotted out regularly. Today I’ll be pushing back against the assumptions behind them. The arguments are in bold and my comments immediately follow.

The Internet is dangerous. Actually, most cases of rape, child abuse and certain types of murder are committed by someone the victim knows. Anyone can lie about their identity, past or intentions. Of course we should be cautious around people we don’t know well but meeting online doesn’t make “John” dangerous any more than meeting “Sally” at a friend’s party (or being related to her) makes her a trustworthy babysitter.

Internet relationships don’t foster genuine connections! Tell that to my husband. 😉 Longtime readers already know this but we first met on a message board many years ago. I didn’t know what he looked like until we met in person but I loved the man I’d gotten to know through email and phone calls. Yes,  one should be cautious in the beginning while you figure out if the other person is whom they claim to be but this is true of any relationship.

The Internet is destroying our social skills. I’ve never seen evidence of this. There have always been (and will always be) rude and polite people in this world. No technology can change human nature.

The Internet undermines local relationships. To be honest I do think access to the Internet has changed how often some people spend time with neighbours and acquaintances. Twenty years ago one’s social circle was almost always limited to people who lived nearby: coworkers, neighbours, friends of friends. If you shared common interests and a similar outlook on life this worked out well but it was also incredibly isolating for anyone who deviated from the norm. It’s much easier to pine for the good old days if you’ve never had to worry about being ostracized or discriminated against.

Stairs to No End

Stairs to no end from Daniella Koffler on Vimeo.

This is a parable about asking questions, the fear that inhibits us and how difficult it is to stifle curiosity permanently.

When I was 11 years old I thought all adults had to have children especially if they ended up in a longterm relationship. The few I met who did not follow this rule were deliciously rebellious. I wondered how they’d gotten away with it but was pretty sure I wouldn’t be able to follow in their footsteps. For one thing, most of them were men and I’d somehow come to the conclusion that the rules weren’t so easily bent for women.

I didn’t know why things were this way or how to change them but in quiet moments I thought about it often. It was a puzzle for which I hadn’t been given all of the pieces yet.

There were a few adult women in our social circles who waited until they were really old to have a baby. Some were 30 or even older! I thought, therefore, that I could probably delay it until I was that age. At which point I’d figure out some other reason to wait just one more year for a decade or two until I became impossibly old.

It was only as I grew older that I figured out that becoming a parent really was a choice. No one could force me to have a child and it was ok to never do it.

That realization was a breathe of fresh air.  In the near future would come other labels: bi. non-theist. humanist.

A generation or two ago I don’t know that I would have been able to be so open about who I really am to the world.

But it all started with a question I had yet to answer and a conviction I couldn’t (quite) name.

Respond

What did you think of the video? What questions or identities have bubbled their way to your surfaces?

 

 

How Fear Defines You

Fellow horror fans have probably heard of Decay already. For those of you who haven’t it’s an amateur zombie flick filmed at CERN, home of the Large Haldron Collider. In the story a few dozen researchers are exposed to the Higgs Boson particle with disastrous results.

Watch it for free here if you’re interested:

Longterm readers have probably figured out that I like being scared. Out of everything in the horror genre zombies frighten me the most because they’re not bound by the same rules that affect other mythical creatures.

The undead don’t need an invitation to enter your home. They’re not lethally allergic to sunlight, silver bullets, garlic, holy water, cutting down their trees or hearing a human say that we don’t believe in them.

And  a universe that includes them changes the way we treat one another. If general-you wants to survive a zombiepocalypse the wounded must be left behind. Even the shallowest bite or scratch is a death sentence in almost every story on this topic and as soon as the afflicted person dies every other member of the group is in terrible danger.

This is a silly example, of course, but as I was watching Decay I realized that abandoning someone who desperately needs help is gut-wrenching. How could anyone abandon a friend or coworker to certain death? Would I keep running in that situation or would I risk my own life to help someone who was going to die anyway?

I’d like to think I’d be a hero in that situation but I honestly don’t know.

What do you fear?

 

They Don’t Belong Here

It was a cold, windy afternoon. While checking out some library books I heard a conversation heating up: “… and they could have bedbugs.” The woman anxiously jerked her grey curls to three men reading in the corner surrounded by their tattered backpacks and faded grocery bags. “Everyone is welcome here,” the clerk replied. “But… Read More

The Joy of Fear

Happy Halloween! Let’s talk about our favourite horror, ghost or supernatural tales today. When I was nine or ten years old I checked a book of ghost stories out from the school library and snuck it home. Mom found it, of course. Somehow parents almost always do. 😉 I don’t remember having a conversation about… Read More

Pacifists and Horror Flicks

Despite the title, this isn’t just about watching scary movies or about nonviolence.  It’s about being incongruent.  Yes, I’m a pacifist who loves (certain) horror flicks. Fear and anticipation are a delicious elixir when one knows that they are, without a doubt, absolutely safe. I don’t like blood and gore, torture, or graphic scenes of… Read More