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Musings: Fear

Today’s topic is: “What are you afraid of?”

When I was young and wanted to play with my neighbors, I would walk or ride my bike a half mile down the dirt road to their house. Along the way, I remember there was a copse of birch trees that creaked and swayed wildly in the gentlest of breezes. For years, I would insist on running or riding past as fast as I could because I was sure that one of them was about to fall over and land on me.

As an adult, I’m generally less fearful. I know the chances of being crushed by a tree are very slim. And I know there aren’t any monsters in my closet because there are too many boxes so even a small monster wouldn’t fit comfortably. That being said, I have seen a few too many scary movies in my lifetime, and I have to admit that I worry, during storms, a single flash of lightning will reveal a figure standing ominously outside my living room window. So does that make me I afraid of serial killers? I guess only when it rains at night.

Of course, there are plenty of things I’d rather not encounter again (if given the option): bugs inside my home, opossums in my chicken coop at dusk, barracudas while swimming in the ocean. But I’m trying not to pass along irrational fears to my children. (For example, I act like it’s no big deal when a storm rolls in after dark.) Neither of my girls cares that some children are afraid of monsters, the dark, heights, clowns, snakes, or spiders. So far, my youngest, Maggie, avoids touching lady bugs (because her papa told her they can bite) and our neighbor’s cat Patty (because Patty scratched her last summer). My oldest, Cambria, says she’s afraid of the blinking light on the smoke detector and has learned to avoid the electric fence and the hot stovetop. I see most of those as important lessons learned early in life, rather than unsubstantiated fears (although the blinking light thing still confuses me).

According to a 2015 study at Chapman University, monsters and serial killers aren’t even close to the top ten fears of Americans. (The complete list is actually very interesting.)


Thankfully, I’m not regularly concerned about the zombie apocalypse (8.5%), needles (18.5%), robots replacing the workforce (28.9%), or tornados (31.4%). My true fears are that there won’t be enough healthy (real) food and clean water for us and the future generations of humans on this planet. I worry about losing our pollinators and irreversibly destroying our fertile soil. I’m afraid that humans will disagree themselves into an uninhabitable environment.

So what do we do about it? Well, I will work to create the kind of world I want to live in. I will try to teach my children to #BeKindToOneAnother and to the planet. This summer, my family will once again plant a vegetable garden and grow flowers. And we will appreciate all of the luxuries that we have, while we can.


What are you afraid of? Share in the comments.

~ Phoebe DeCook

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