You’re walking alone at night after a long day’s work. You’re exhausted, your feet hurt, and your head is zipping from how poorly the afternoon meeting went, to how you’re going to find time to hit the gym, stop at the grocery store, feed the kids, and remind the significant other how important he/she is to you. For a lot of us, these are the real fears in life. There isn’t enough time on the clock or days on the calendar. You don’t have enough energy to do it all. The money won’t make it through to the end of the month. Your family is going to be sorely disappointed by your failings.
But these worries become so mundane when they occur everyday. Don’t they?
That’s when the mind starts to make things up. There’s a shadow stretched across the alleyway to your right, but is it really just a shadow? Or is it a demon trying to pull you down? Footsteps pound behind you, your heart pounds within, you quicken the pace but the monsters still follow. You’re not thinking clearly, but surely your stalker has a knife. Or worse: a mirror. Are you ready to turn and look him in the eyes? Are you ready to turn and face your own reflection, to really confront who you are?
There’s a million things to be afraid of, both rational and irrational. And there’s a million stories about these very horrors. I think of Lovecraft saying “the oldest and strongest emotion of mankind is fear, and the oldest and strongest kind of fear is fear of the unknown” or how we know that “fear leads to the dark side” thanks to our little erudite, green friend Yoda. How we face our fears, in the end, determines who we become. Do we let them paralyze us and control our lives? Or do we rise above them, face them head on, and leave our monsters behind?
Fear is great fodder for story. When you think of some of the most famous writers of all time, a lot of those names are probably horror writers. Aren’t they? Come on, don’t be afraid, you can admit it.
Shelley, Jackson, Lovecraft, Poe, Rice, King, Koontz, Stroker, Matheson, Blackwood, etc. and in no particular order. The list goes on and on and on. This post isn’t about who’s the best, or who I like, or who I think you should read. It’s about the omnipresence of the theme of fear. It’s everywhere. Under our beds. In our closets. Deep within the intricacies of our minds. It’s hidden in shadows, down in the depths of the seas and woven into our imaginations.
One day, I’ll do the topic justice through fiction. For now, I’ll continue to face my own fears and try to confront you with yours.