The Fear: Trite Angsty Reflections

Previous posts on The Fear I-IV were culled from an autobiographical work called Wreck of Being. It mawkishly details my budding understanding of existentialism through four moments: watching The Wizard of Oz, attending a Leafs game and two Grateful Dead concerts. The book concludes with trite, rambling reflections on what The Fear means.

Now for my truisms: “Bad layering makes for bad burning”. Like every layer – everything from our friends and family to work and dreams – we learn what we need so that survival can be as straightforward as possible. We cannot operate our intelligence without confining it to contexts; to attempt to grasp all facets of existence outside a framed perspective is impossible, would result in a direct confrontation with The Fear and thus insanity.

Truism #2: “Tightly bundled minds cannot breathe.” A perspective must be maintained, but it must not be too confining. The Fear has to be understood and dealt with from time to time, for The Fear is the lurking reality of our universality, of our very irrelevance. It exists and cannot be ignored. Perspectives are vital to living a sane life, but they cannot be fixed. To live within a box of work, wife, whiskey and whist only makes the inevitable meltdown all the more forceful.

And thus my third and final truism: “Layers and The Fear kept in the right balance makes for productive years.” The time in warm and cool layers – the vast majority of years – will always be remembered as the coziest, though the time with The Fear will be the most vivid and affecting. An equilibrium lies somewhere; each to their own.     

“Manitou Island”: Individual Response Tests

My parents enrolled me in a private grade school, The Venture, where the regular curriculum of maths, sciences and languages was mixed with Individual Response Test Situations (IRTS). A typical IRTS involved being left alone in a room full of toys, while the psychologists watched from a one-way window. I don’t remember doing anything much except staring off dumbly.I was accident prone. By the time I was 12 years old, I already had stitches in my knee (bicycle), chin (pool), shin (bicycle), lip (hockey stick), elbow (bicycle), thumb (car door) and knee again (bicycle again). A week before summer vacation in Grade 12, I broke my leg in a car accident. So instead of starting a summer job at the bank, I went to Cedar Lake and stayed with my grandparents. The highlight had to be catching a six-pound bass. I was so excited that I pulled the motor’s cord with the motor in gear and was thrown out the back. I tread water, my cast dissolving in the water, and watched the boat circle around me. I ruined my shoulder trying to grab it once. Finally the boat worked its way to shore and ran up on the rocks. And so I lost the fish, wrecked the boat and had my leg in the cast for another two months.