Sunday, October 14, 2012

Irrational Fears

Have neglected this thing, haven't I?  Well, my writing inspiration has been taken up by videogame fan fiction.  I'm actually in the process of writing an odd but serious crossover. Yeah, wastes of time, wastes of life, but oh so fun. 

Anyway, Halloween is coming up.  I don't really celebrate as I don't have kids, no one comes to my residence (despite the fact that I live near a cool, spooky graveyard), and I'm not social enough for the adult party scene.  Speaking of that graveyard, I've discovered something very interesting about people, or at least myself...

I've spoken before about how I totally like taking evening walks in that place.  The gates are always open and the only "wall" is a hedge. It's patrolled by police from time to time, but rarely and having had a cop car pass by me at sunset there, as well as meeting people walking their dogs there (at night)! I suspect that everyone in the neighborhood is trusted not to be a potential vandal and people are cool with cemetary-walks at whatever time you want to take them. 

I once had an online / AIM friend who was a rationalist, skeptic, did not believe in ghosts, gods or anything - was open to the possibility that she might find out she was wrong when she died, but really didn't think so. I told her about going into my local cemetary at night to investigate the cool little solar garden lights people leave on graves there.  She told me she wouldn't do that (go into a cemetary alone at night, even without fears of the local police even giving a crap) because "Ooh, spooky, I'd be so creeped out!"  - At this point, I pointed out to her  that she was the rational skeptic while I was the slightly more superstitious person who leans more toward belief in the possibilty of a spirit-world and the idea that *maybe* I'd get haunted by something or some kind of residual energy if I'd disturbed something sufficently.  In short, I don't really *know* if there's anything more than the subjective flickerings of the near-death brain beyond this life, but I really *hope* so, which makes me "believe in it a little more" than people more "rational" than I am, yet I rationally consider that the only things to be afraid of in a graveyard are open-pit graves being prepared for funerals (don't mess around them, you could fall and hurt yourself) and old, large tombstones (like those that occasionally kill people - mostly children - who "play" with them). 

There is no rational reason for fear there, yet... last night I made a fun Halloween topic on a fun entertainment board I go to asking anyone if they've ever seen ghosts.  It was inspired by reading an article by one of those "Ghost Adventures" TV-people. (You know, the guys who spend the show screaming at air and trying to convince you that background noises they pick up on tape recorder are angry spirits).  I've never had any kind of paranormal experience - and am mildly jealous of those who do, if for nothing more than they have a "bit of crazy" in their lives that they aren't ashamed of. (While having a mundane emotional disorder makes me feel ashamed of my very existence much of the time). One of the board's well-known rationalists answered simply (perhaps smugly?) "I've never seen a ghost and do not believe in them."  So, I pressed him - I asked him if he was like my other friend who, despite believing there "ain't no such thing as ghosts" if they would feel creeped out (more than I do) about walking around a cemetary at night.  And, bingo.  The excuse was "spooky setting." 

I told him not to feel bad, because psychological studies have found bits of irrationality in otherwise rational people, even those who pride themselves on that aspect of their minds.  It's a part of being human. 

While I'm unafraid of spooky settings, like nightttime graveyards, I can tell you that I'm deeply afraid of "perfectly safe" experiences that trigger fear response in me.  --- I don't think I have ridden a roller coaster since I was 9 or 10 years old.  Disneyland was my first and last experience with the things.  And, yes, I did go on more than one and confirmed "BIG NO!" for the rest of my life.  It does not matter than coasters have a saftety bar and a mostly good safety record. I do not care that riding that suspended in the air funky "Batman" ride is probably safter, statistically, than me driving and riding in cars like I do almost every day... NO, NO, NO, NO, NO!  It's the "sensation of falling" that I do not like.  That dropping feeling you get in your stomach that rides like that thrive on... it inspired a phobic response in me so that anything even remotely like that sensation is my "aboslutely not" moment.  

Because of this, I don't care how safe bungee jumping is supposed to be - it would probably kill me via anxiety-inspired heart attack on the way down. 

I wonder if we admitted to our own irrationalities, big and small, fears included, if we might... not look down other people / each other quite so much.  I realize that I have some stupid fears that have no relation to logic.  And I think "that's okay."  I don't think it's possible for people to ever become beings of pure logic because that would be the moment we stop being warm, squishy mammals with warm, squishy brains and the instant we become robots.  Maybe we should learn to acknowledge and even celebrate our raw emotions and instinctual reactions a little more.  It's what the Halloween season is all about, isn't it?