Sunday, October 22, 2017

What Scares Me

Every year on October 31st, the world (or those in it that recognize such frivolous holidays) tries to frighten itself. Scary movies, ghost stories, spooky costumes, all part of the elaborate ruse designed to riff on one of the most primitive and powerful sensations in the human emotional lexicon: fear.

In honor of the approaching All Hallow's Eve, it's time to face my fears and blog about the things that scare me.

My Health
You might find this pumpkin or these bats scary. I don't.
I would face these guys any day over an awkward social function
Every time I get some strange new pain I'm convinced I'm dying. This is usually confirmed by Google when I plop my symptoms into their handy search bar. I figure Google employs some of the most brilliant people on the planet, so if they tell me I have a rare incurable disease, it must be true.

Flying Stinging Insects
Don't take this the wrong way, honeybees of the world, I really appreciate what you do for us. Pollination is pretty cool and all. But one of your kind (or any of your brethren like wasps or hornets) flying into my shirt and stabbing its thorax sword into my tender places is up there with a root canal and the stomach flu for things I don't want to experience today.

Awkward Social Constructs
The only thing worse than sitting awkwardly in a corner while people hurricane around you communicating freely and apparently enjoying themselves is when people notice you sitting awkwardly in the corner. I can get along with a surprising spectrum of people, but for inexplicable reasons I occasionally find myself turtling into a carapace of self-consciousness when thrust into certain social contexts.

My Imagination
Most of my fears are birthed exclusively from my overactive imagination. That rustle in the shadows was not some nefarious beast or bloodthirsty cacodemon. More likely it was a fluffy squirrel, more frightened of me than I of him. The echoes made by his tiny body were merely augmented into grotesque proportions by my own damn brain. 

Vanishing Global Intellect
It takes only a couple of laps through your favorite social media platform to understand exactly what I'm talking about. Forget mere spelling and grammar abominations, the tone of conversation in this 21st century has reached a new and disturbing ebb. Blame has been laid on so many parties: the internet, movies, video games and parents find themselves most often in the crosshairs. But the problem is too pandemic to stem from any singular source. What is there to be done? I suppose the only thing we can: combat this decline in yourself. Don't get your news from memes. Support science, arts, literature and education. Read books. Ban intellectual poisons from your diet and maybe we might have a chance.

The Most Terrifying Animal in the Animal Kingdom
I loved The Life of Pi and one of my favorite bits of imagery was early in the novel when Pi describes a display at his family's zoo, a curtain with a sign over it that read: "Do you know which is the most dangerous animal in the zoo?" Wondering what could possibly be worse than the lions and tigers and bears (oh my!) on display, people worked themselves into a nervous tizzy and ripped back the curtain with a gasp. What animal was revealed? A mirror. That's right. Humans are the most dangerous animal. No other creature in history (as far as we know) has been the author of a mass extinction (yes, scientists are now saying we are in the Holocene Extinction). We do amazing things, us humans. But we also commit some of the worst atrocities in world history and frankly that terrifies me.

A Mountain of Dirty Dishes
This might not look like much but for me it is the stuff of nightmares
Move over penicillin, rockets, the cotton gin, automobiles, the internet, and the wheel, clearly the dishwasher is the greatest invention in mankind's long history. There is nothing more loathsome then squaring off against a Mt. Everest of dirty, food-crusted plates, cups and silverware. Not only is handwashing dishes a smelly, unpleasant exercise in  futility, it sucks up precious hours of my day that could be spent doing other things, like writing blog posts about how much I hate doing dishes.

The Acceleration of Time
Each year the years get shorter. It's like some sneaky sociopath breaks into my life and pilfers precious minutes, or even hours, every day. Perhaps it is just a function of proportionality: as one ages, a month or a year becomes an increasingly smaller portion of his lifespan. I remember as a kid when a year passed like an eternity. I longed for milestones that approached at a sloth's pace: being 10, getting out of middle school, driving a car, turning 18. Now decades pass in a blink and I think back on things "just a little while ago" and realize they have drifted almost 15 years into my past. Can someone hit the brakes on this?

Nothing is worse for a writer trying to convince the ruthless world he's worthy than a typo. Well maybe a homonym error. No matter how many pages of semi-worthy writing I produce, vicious critics will write me off for a single lapse in concentration. A forgotten hyphen or a missing comma. Of course, I also scratch my head in wonderment at how such errors sneak into my work despite countless editorial pass-throughs. This is the most powerful of all my fears and hence lands here at the end of this terrifying blog post!

Cower in your closet terrified of ghosts and ghouls or innocuous monsters like bats and spiders if you want. I won't blame you. But come Halloween night, if a dreaded typo comes knocking at my door I'm calling the friggin' cops.

If you enjoyed this post, consider signing up for my mailing list. When not paralyzed in fear of everything from my own shadow to a dirty pan that housed last night's lasagna, I write about all sorts of crazy, educational, entertaining, and occasionally funny topics from what makes an effective first paragraph in a novel to giant redwoodsmedieval sailboats, the ancient Mayans and more. You will get a once-a-week update on my blog posts and NOTHING ELSE! No spam, no selling your email to third parties. Okay, if I ever get around to publishing one of these works in progress that are constantly haunting me I might send out an email letting you know. In the meantime thanks for reading.

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All writing is the original work of Brian Wright and may not be copied, distributed, re-printed or used any form without express written consent of the author. Find out here how to CONTACT me with publishing and/or use questions 


  1. Wow, seriously - I could have written this post. :)

  2. Another fine and slightly bizarre read. Agree with the imagination!

    1. Slightly bizarre is good, I think. Thanks for reading. And for the comment!