Day 7, Tuesday: The thing(s) you’re most afraid of.
Like everyone, I have a few irrational fears, stemmed by personal experience and then I have those other fears… the ones that are tucked away, deep inside me. Ones that I don’t know if are irrational or not. Ones that stem my beliefs, and therefore, stem my experiences.
I used to love the book Stellaluna
But now, I am terrified of bats. Brown bats, black bats, doesn’t matter. In college, my house was infested with them for two years. We easily had 20+ bats in our house on any given day. They lived in our walls, our vents, our ceilings and our attic. And since our house was always warm (no AC in the warm months, and heat in the winter) our bat friends never hibernated. So they were awake every night from 2 – 8 a.m., screeching, flapping around. I learned to fall asleep with head phones on. Oh and the ones in the vents? They have a lovely stench when the heat kicked on. So how come we never got rid of them completely?
- There are very few exterminators that deal with bats because they are a protected species. You cannot kill them… legally.
- Their skulls can collapse, meaning they can squeeze their bodies into spaces as small as one inch. We had exterminators come out and close up every possible visible crevice on the outside of the house… but no one can get them all.
- Once bats are removed from their home, they have excellent sound recognition, and if within a mile, they can find their ways back home.
- Our landlord was equally terrified of bats.
Why did we stay another year in the same house? Our landlords guaranteed they would be gone by the fall of 2007. Turns out, they weren’t.
Experience that was the icing on the cake? On my friend Amanda’s 21st (and golden) birthday, we decided we had enough. So we dug out some awesome gear… old clothes, goggles, bags, towels etc and we ventured up to the attic. All it took was one bat flying past my head… it’s wing nearly flapping me in the face in order for me to decide I would not be the one to capture.
Amanda and I were on release duty (happy birthday, Amanda!). Lydia captured, Jackie transported the bats to the main part of the house, and Amanda and I carried each sucker to the woods nearby our house and chuck it as far as we could (unfortunately these woods were within a mile radius — the radius fact we learned after this adventure). We also did not let Lydia (the biology major) know that were were chucking them and not gracefully setting them down.. until after the event.
We escorted 7 or 8 bats out of our attic that night. That barely makes a dent for the others who lived inside the walls and vents. I have been traumatized ever since.
Life without a paddle
I used to be terrified of canoes. I am no longer terrified but I think it can still be classified as being afraid. When I was six or seven years old, my aunt, uncle, mom, dad, sister and I decided to take a canoe trip on the Cannon River. We were supposed to get off on the tire swing on the unidentified “island” in order to catch our ride. The unidentifiable island did an excellent job of hiding, because we missed it. And then it started to rain. And then my aunt and uncle flipped their canoe several times. And then I was wearing a garbage bag as a raincoat. And then it stormed…hard. Eventually we came across a campground, where they helped us out of the river, and helped us connect with the canoe rental company. I am pretty sure my dad had some words for them. I don’t remember. I just remember having the campers give me a towel and something warm to drink.
I haven’t been in a canoe since. I avoid them, but I won’t say I will never get in one again. Part of my fear stems from the fact that I am not a strong swimmer. The other part just triggers that memory, every time. Maybe some day I will try it again. It’s only been 20 years, right?
My other fear is losing you — my friends, my family. I do not fear death, I understand it is a fact of life and inevitable. I have had the unfortunate circumstance of seeing those I love die since I was three. So death does not scare me.
The loss I fear is the one that is created by mankind. The ones we choose to make every day, to distance ourselves from the people we deem important. The tragedy that happens when we grow apart and become busy. Not the kind when we realize that we NEED to move on — perhaps someone is actually bad for us, they may cause more stress and sadness — but those situations when life gets BUSY. When we get so wrapped up in our lives and we forget about people, or time slips away and before you know it, it has been weeks, months, years since we last spoke or saw each other. Or when we fight or argue and we let one argument dictate the rest of our relationship. We choose to fight, to be bitter instead of choosing to forgive. Those are the situations I fear… and when they happen, my heart weighs so heavy.
I also fear that one day I will not accomplish everything I want to. That I will never become that artist/writer that I have wanted to be since I was a young girl. That I won’t see the world or have an impact on those I love. You know, fears I think we all struggle with every day. I think it is safe to say that every one struggles with this at some point.
What fears do you have? Do your fears tend to be more rational or irrational? Do they stem from personal experience or is it a phobia that you have no idea where it comes from?