Wednesday, July 27, 2016
nothing to fear but a cheeto with a brillo pad on his head
i find myself thinking about fear. it’s surely the aftermath of last week’s republican national convention, which seemed to be all fear (and hatred) all the time. and then i just listened to the modern love podcast episode “live without me,” which was about how almost being in a plane crash changed the author’s fear of flying (counterintuitively taking it away). and it got me thinking about what i fear.
i can have the odd sleeplessness at 3 a.m., worrying about money or whether they’re painting the ship without us being there to film or reimagining what i should have said in a conversation, but i’m not generally much of a worrier. but i find myself genuinely worried these days about the prospect of that cheeto with a brillo pad on his head becoming president of the land of my birth. about the only thing i can do about that is vote for hillary and do my part, so it’s not actually worth losing sleep over.
in a little over a week, we are sending our child “over there,” into the belly of the gun-toting, school-shooting, cheeto-loving, jesus brigade. and i’ll admit i have my share of fears about that. was it a good idea to send her via an airport we’ve never transited? do we bring her home immediately if the cheeto wins? how soon will it descend into anarchy and chaos and be completely unsafe for an innocent, albeit fashion-conscious, über cool teen? was it wise to buy her a one-way ticket?
all of those giant, quite unfathomable fears aside, i don’t generally fear that much in my daily life. ever since i left russia by myself on a train to the finnish border in 1994, i've been pretty fearless. i used to walk alone at night in my neighbourhood on the south side of chicago, believing that if i walked with purpose, i’d be ok (turned out that was true). i’ve travelled alone on balkan trains, ridden in rickshaws late at night on the streets of mumbai, crowded into the back of a tuk tuk in phuket, driven the road from manila to subic, played in the waves in the south china sea during a typhoon and been beaten up by (supposed) bulgarian police. and yet, i remain a mostly unfearful person.
it’s something my mother taught me to be, by being fearless herself. she drove us to horse shows all over the upper midwest on threadbare tires throughout my childhood. she told me to get back up on the horse when it dumped me off. she made me get out there are work with that horse again when it was being difficult. and that time that skip’s galley lad picked me up by my shoulder blade with his teeth when i was 12, i didn’t tell anyone (until years later), nor did i become afraid of him, because i had a fierce love for him already in place. if anything the fear made me more determined.
but i’ll admit i don’t really know what to do with this fear about the fascist cheeto with the brillo pad on his head. it’s a low grade fear that won’t go away.