I woke up with a paralyzing fear on Friday morning. It was definitely the middle of the night, though I’m not sure what time it was. A paralyzing fear doesn’t allow you to roll over and crane your neck to look at the clock. The strange thing about it is that I didn’t know where it came from. I had been dreaming, that was for sure, but it was the kind of dreaming that you might remember details for only seconds after being awake and then it’s gone. I did wonder if it had anything to do with the recent events in Moncton. Even though I had felt very calm and confident about the whole situation (despite family and friends being on lock-down in that city) we all still had some degree of fright since the gunman had still not been caught at that point. Yet I lay there in my bed thinking of that very event but the fear I was feeling didn’t seem to be associated with it. Then something cool happened.
I realized that I had a rare moment. The fear was there but the knowledge of the source wasn’t, so I was able to, in a sense, sit back a moment and observe it. Usually in moments like this all you have is the source of the fear that dominates your thinking. Your mind has to work overtime with self-talk, or perhaps seek out some immediate distractions.
I took a moment to feel the actual physical effects. It is important to understand that in the title of this post I am not using the word “paralyzing” as a hyperbolic adjective. This kind of fear literally holds you in place. It’s not so much that you too afraid to move–in fact, you try. But the fear holds you there. It’s like there’s a giant python wrapped around you and a sumo wrestler sitting on your chest. I had that “so-this-is-what-it-feels-like” moment. I know I’ve had the feeling before, but any other time I wouldn’t have had the ability to have a clear mind accompanying it. Having the opportunity to experience it this way helped put this sensation into perspective.
Immediately it dawned on me how this terrifying feeling can be subdued with clear thinking and a change in perspective. I remember when I was young and was scared after seeing a scary movie or hearing a ghost story, it always felt better to walk into a well-lit kitchen. A sit-com playing on the television also helped. Anything that brought normal back and changed my perspective was a source of relief. Most of the times that we experience such gripping fear most of it is unwarranted.
Though it’s best to not face fears alone, it can be done. I don’t believe in flying solo in life. Problems need to be faced with a good support of family and friends. But when in a pinch, we can face even this petrifying feeling. Being able to step outside of our own selves and change our point of view we can handle it.
This week’s movie of the week has one of the most captivating performances by an actor, and his character thrives on fear. And why wouldn’t he? Who needs a freeze ray when you can use something absolutely free to render people incapacitated and helpless? There’s a great scene where the Joker forces a scenario that he believes will prove that humanity, when given enough fear, will betray and attack one another. SPOILER ALERT: The people’s courage and clear-headed thinking confound his plan. Seems fitting considering the people’s response in Moncton this week, especially members of the police force.
Congratulations The Dark Knight. This is your week.
And the Oscar goes to…
Best Actress: Linda Hamilton. Speaking of fear, her reaction to seeing the Terminator (Ahhnold) was awesome. She showed the most genuine fear and her acting is very well done in the entire film.
Best Actor: Heath Ledger. Pretty sure no one will argue this selection. Even sticking his head out a car window while driving was memorable and amazing.
Best Quote: “I don’t want to kill you! What would I do without you? Go back to ripping off mob dealers? No, no, NO! No. You… you… complete me.”
So, cheers to the summer blockbusters! We look forward to a string of more in the next couple of months. There will be good ones, ok ones, bad ones, and hopefully a classic like this one. And if it happens to be scary, we’ll know what to do.