When I was very young–too young to remember this–my dad and I were in the ocean when we got dragged out by the tide. We went under several times and finally made it back to shore. I can’t remember if someone rescued us or if we just got lucky. I doubt I was older than two or three, but these days, even walking towards the ocean gives me the chills.
Sometimes even thinking about it gets me all worked up. I’m sure it’s a leftover, buried deep in my brain below the level of conscious thought. It has followed across a couple of decades.
Fear is a fascinating thing.
This may be the least rational thing you’ll hear today, but I am terrified of sharks and giant squids. You may say, “Well, sharks are scary, there’s nothing wrong with that.” But what I’m talking about is more like a phobia. Terror. A dread that I can’t explain. I can easily explain why I don’t want to be gnawed apart by insane sea beasts.
But I can’t explain why the thought of a giant squid makes my stomach twist. Too much 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea? Perhaps.
But perhaps not.
I’m probably never going to bump into a shark on the streets of Salt Lake City. Or a giant squid, for that matter. But when I was in Washington D.C., I saw a giant squid at the Smithsonian. Combined with my fear of the ocean and the amount of books about sea monsters that I’ve read, I started shaking and my teeth started chattering right there on the spot.
Even though I don’t go to the ocean much, I have a hard time doing much more than wading. I get up to about my knees and all I can think of is a giant squid flying through the air to bite me with its crazy beak. Or a shark grabs my foot and drags me out to sea to eat me.
But I’ve never really been in danger, other than that time I was on my dad’s back. And again–I have no recollection of that.
And while I find the ocean terrifying to think about, I had nearly as much trouble at Lake Powell once. Dark water. Deep water. It makes my hair stand on end.
Where do phobias come from?
Anyways, what makes a phobia a phobia? I am no danger from these things that scare me. But the thought of them freaks me out and if I spend a minute thinking about the bottom of the ocean, my heart starts pounding and I feel sick.
You’ve probably seen talk shows like Maury Povich where someone is terrified of tinfoil or balloons. They start screaming and rolling on the floor and sobbing the second someone unwraps a baked potato and they see the gleaming silver foil. I don’t know if that stuff is real, but it doesn’t seem like it’s much more irrational than these things that scare me.
Again: why would I or anyone else be scared of something that poses no danger to them?
What about you? Any phobias?
Josh–aka timid queen of the seven seas.
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