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Nothing to fear but fear itself.

Posted in Life & Love, and Relationships

12190111_936820676397673_4984784822414681333_nOne of the effects of our time in New York was that it turned down the noise in camparigirl’s mind. Dampening it to a soft burr: one she could tolerate as we tramped the streets of Manhattan. At times, though: the hum would amplify from white noise to an audible crackle, a sharp blast of feedback. I would hear it happen – and watch as the din changed the way she interacted with the people bedevilling her on the phone. I saw how it blurred her immediate environment and telescoped her in on a possibility – one that made her soul shriek and holler.

One we never named.

I would be stern with her: “Claudia – calm toi,” She would look at me and I would see the horror that filled her eyes. Bureaucratic snafus had become threats to her life. Petty rules and regulations had turned into weapons of war. Lazy secretaries had morphed into torturers. They were killing her.

“Just stop it now.”

That worked for a while. Until she boarded a plane: then icy waves filled the vacuum of our busy days and she wrote: “During the flight the fear and anxiety that were nearly gone in NY came back in full force…”

Fear is a feral fucker – it sneaks up on us hungrily when we’re wounded, vulnerable. It robs us of our fluidity, of the use of our limbs. Of fair language or rational thought. Of rhythm, of possibility, of hope, of equilibrium, of strength. It is insatiable. It magnifies. It revokes our ability to love others and ourselves.

Fear is an amnesiac, too. At the very instant we need our faculties, our strengths the most: we forget everything we know to be true. Yet, show me fear, let me touch it, hold it, taste it – and you can’t.


Danger, on the other hand, is real. A person with a bomb or a gun in our house is a deadly threat. The tumour in our breast is a bullet waiting tear flesh. These things are tangible, they exist. We can touch and see them. Fear is a weapon of our own creation; the deadly product of our thoughts. Where danger is actual – fear is a choice.

camparigirl told you about our evening with Patti Smith. It was the last night of our holiday and raining. On the way to the theatre we (predictably) got lost, and as Claudia tried to deal with her Health Insurance company we walked through the wet and cold. When we got to the Beacon Theatre, neither of us said anything for a while … until I admitted – “I hate flying these days, keep thinking the plane is going to go down.” Immediately she replied: “Oh god, me too. Never did before – but now I do all the time.”

We paused and then said together: “I don’t want to die.”
“You’re not going to”, I said. “You either.” she said.
We laughed.
The word has been surfaced. And for a few minutes, it was less scary.

Crucial-Interventions-by-Richard-Barnett-13If left to their own devices; the godawful events of this past weekend – the murders of our families, friends, colleagues, compadres in Paris, Beirut and Kenya – will cripple us. If left completely unattended; this horror will join forces with the losses we have suffered in the past. It will march brazenly up to the illness, the cancer, the uncertainty, the shame, the dread, the murder, the terrorism… and stand on the shoulders of those malevolent giants. Smiling in victory.

Fear will kick us in the ass. It will scare us from exercising our freedom. It will stop us eating, drinking, dancing, travelling, flying, falling, loving. It will stop us living while we can. It could even scare us to death.

That is, if we let it.

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  1. Ellie Toffolo
    Ellie Toffolo

    Dear Sue I’m so happy you and Claudia had such a good and well deserved time in New York. Wonderful !!! Superb !!!! I read all your posts.
    Back to this post – Fear? I know it well.I recently read an interesting article about how laughter may have developed – it isn’t something you see in animals, so how did humans develop it, invent it? Apparently back in stone age times when we couldn’t speak, in situations of danger, in a camp situation, packs of males, out to protect the camp from the enemy, from imminent danger, wild animals etc would come back to camp and if they showed laughter on their faces it would immediately indicate to the rest of the camp that danger was no longer imminent – I can almost feel the relief that laughter could bring in those situations.
    So it would appear that danger and fear have always been the norm. Laughter and lack of fear the exception. Post 2nd world war parents desperately wanted fear to be abolished – and generations after that have had no idea how to cope, But the only way to deal with Hitler was to annihilate him. There was no other solution.
    I take this opportunity to say a sad, heartfelt, heartbroken farewell to Thomas Ayad, Marie and Manu from Universal France who lost their lives last Friday at the Bataclan in Paris.
    Whatever life I have left I am lucky.

    November 17, 2015
    • sofagirl

      Hey Ellie – Awful isn’t it, we spent so many evenings at the Bataclan – it is like someone came into our home. I am fascinated by your thoughts on laughter – am going to look it all up. Stay strong xxx

      November 17, 2015

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