Scared? Can I Open My Eyes Yet?

“Is it worse to be scared than to be bored? That is the question.” (Gertrude Stein)


Fill-in the blank: “I’m scared of _____________________.” There’s always something to put on that blank line, maybe a whole laundry list of things. It’s interesting that some of us have specific fears of the very things that others gravitate toward – why some people thrive on that adrenaline rush that something scary or risky creates baffles the rest of us.

Think about it. Some things would not exist if not for people who love to be scared.

Movies: Horror movies are a good illustration. Even the silent movies had their horror films. From campy to gory, a new horror film draws a crowd. Who knew a movie about raining sharks would turn into a series? Rocky Horror Picture Show is a class by itself. Michael Myers and Freddy Krueger (among others) all show up on movie channels this time of year to scare yet again. Disney even got into the act with Hocus Pocus. Phantom of the Opera has been around for years. Initially, the Phantom was quite scary, but over time has become a romantic, misunderstood figure with fans rooting for Christine to pick him in the end.

Music: Jaws. Time to leave the water! Just the sound of those two notes of music brings an instant visual of a wide-open mouth filled with razor sharp teeth aiming for some unsuspecting swimmer. And remember the introductory music for The Twilight Zone? That was my cue to exit the room and go hide under my blanket as a child.

Roller Coasters: The one and only time I ever got on a roller coaster was more than enough. I do recall screaming the entire ride at the person who talked me into it. I’ll pass on anything that roars down a cliff to a bone churning finish. Nope, not my cup of tea. I saw a video on Facebook recently of a new ride atop a hotel in Las Vegas – the X Scream. It’s over 800 feet from the ground and goes about 29 feet over the edge of the hotel at about 30 mph. Who dreams these rides up? And, the bigger question, who takes the test rides? Talk about an adrenaline rush – being the first person to try one of those rides must be the ultimate rush.

For those who prefer the role of spectator, watching those death-defying risk takers is enough of a rush. Even some of the Olympic sports are scary, like bobsledding or flying off the end of a ramp. Watching Nik Wallenda walk across that Grand Canyon gorge or some extreme sport is a nerve-wracking experience. We tend to forget that those risk-takers spend countless hours in training and planning to succeed in those events.

As John Wayne said, “Courage is being scared to death . . . and saddling up anyway.” So, we all saddle up and face those scary moments in our own fashion.