The basest of all things is to be afraid.
One of the biggest and fiercest demons to face in the struggle to survive is not wanting to.
I, like millions of other people in the world, have become adept at the fine art of surviving on nothing. It probably has to do with my boyhood. My father died when I was 4. He went believing that his army pension would take care of his family. He was a war hero and had been decorated by General Patton. But because he wasn't on active duty when he went the government declined to grant my mother his pension. She had a nervous breakdown. But she didn't die. In fact she went on to live another 40 to 50 years.
Within two years of my father's death she sold the house and we plunged into terrifying poverty. I can't even remember some of the places I've lived. My mother had been an actress, she had no other skills, She went off to a typing job everyday with arthritic fingers. She was tough.
I know an actor, talented and reasonably well trained, who refuses to give up his night time office job to engange in an acting career. He would rather lose sleep and take roles in small productions for no money than face the fear, that deep knot in the stomach, over financial insecurity. Unless you're a soap opera actor, financial insecurity is the game. We all face it. We learn to live with it.
During the depression of the 20's men who had lost everything leapt to their deaths out of skyscraper windows. Some men were seen sleeping, mid day, in their blue suits on the grass in Bryant Park. Other men found something else to do. There were a few who sold their wife's strawberry jam from door to door.
In this last depression CEO's found a faster way to go by stepping in front of fast moving trains. The fear of loss, of having nothing left, of not knowing how to survive on nothing has caused a lot of death and destruction. It is a terrifying state for anyone to be in. But FDR said it clearly "The only thing we have to fear is fear itself." Those men died because of a base fear they couldn't face and death seemed to be the best alternative.
I have faced that fear myself many times and came close to thinking that the best thing to do was to pull the plug on myself. But I kept in mind a quote from Shakespeare, "There's place and means for every man alive." But to find that place and means you have to be alive.
It is said that the Donner Party when stranded next to a frozen lake in the Winter while trying to reach California chewed on bark. In my story Brian And Christine, when lost in a frozen wilderness, they also chew on bark just to stay alive. Brian, Christine and the Donners eventually made it out to safety. Some would have given up and died.
Someone once said that success is getting up one more time than you fall. There's no question that falling is a precipice of fear and getting up again is a big struggle.
Does heaven give us any reward for getting up? Probably not. And does the falling and getting up go on in an endless chain of events? Maybe. But as angry, depressed and fearful as I get, I wish to shake my fist at failure, laugh and go looking for the strawberry jam.
DB - The Vagabond
(This is not a contest.)
In your opinion what is the most amazing thing that could happen during this decade? Make it as outrageous as you want but keep it within the realm of what you consider a possibility.
3 responses so far.
Answers will be published the first day of Summer.
DB - The Vagabond