No one passed a certain age believes in werewolves. People allow the same fear into their lives at any age.
Let me take you to a dark room to explain.
When I was about 11, we visited friends in Little Rock, Arkansas. They had a son who’s as seven days older than I was, which made us more compatible. We enjoyed each other’s company.
Our parents were going to run errands, and we heard that drowsy word “shopping” in the conversation. Boys of that age (and all ages) hate “shopping.” So we convinced them to let us stay at home by ourselves. It sounded like a good idea. (Looking back, what kind of temporary insanity had gripped my parents!)
We settled in front of the television and flipped the few channels available in 1966. We discovered the black and white horror movie The Werewolf. Wow! A classic of cinema if there ever was one.
For effect, we closed the curtains and turned out the lights until the room had only the ghoulish glow of the TV. There was one problem. The movie started playing on our 11-year-old psyches.
In short, we became afraid.
At one point in the movie, something dramatic happened that pitched us over the edge. We jolted upright, ran out of the house, and slammed the door. Now, we were safe from the “werewolf.”
We made one mistake. We forgot to unlock the door that slammed behind us. For the next few hours, our panic banished us to the outdoors in the hot sun of an Arkansas summer.
Looking back, I feel foolish. Looking at today, I realize most adults never outgrow the “werewolf syndrome.”
What scared us? Everyone knows there are no werewolves. And even the duped are smart enough to know werewolves don’t come out in daytime (or so I’m told).
So what is it? It’s the same thing that happens in other less cheesy cinematic situations.
Fear fans through a spectrum of meanings and circumstances. It ranges from bonafide concern that a serial rapist is roaming your neighborhood to childhood terrors at a barking dog to the dreaded “audit” IRS notice. One kind of fear that hurts us most often.
It’s the fear of what might happen.
- People (men especially) avoid tests like colonoscopies or even simple yearly checkups. With a bolder-than-real proclamation, they say, “I’m ok. I’ll see a doctor if I am sick.” Then, one day they get sick.
- Strained relationships remain frayed. No one picks up a phone to call. The lingering ash of old hurts, raw words, and strained emotions put the phone down.
- People in debt don’t look at their bills. It’s too painful.
- Kids on the first day of school have flipped over stomachs. What if they don’t like me?
So what kind of fear is this? It’s not the “movie scared” but the fear of the worst that might happen.
The doctor might find something. The person I called might hate me. If I don’t look at the bill, I feel better. If I meet another kid at school, they might hate me.
Those things are typical werewolves in our lives, the specters that stop us from acting. They evolve from past incidents. Dog-bitten people don’t pet the dog, any dog. Heart-bruised people don’t open their hearts to anyone.
It’s too painful to face. Fear bolts and locks the door.
When you take the chance to peek into the dark hallway of your soul, you might find a glimmer of light. Diseases caught early receive treatments. Kids developed lifelong friendships. Bills get paid. The voice on the phone says “I am glad you called. It’s been a long time.”
What Are You Afraid Of?
What’s on your mind? Make a list of all the things you have thought about doing, whether calling an old friend, reclaiming an old hobby, going to a reunion (even though you are thicker and grayer), or making and keeping the doctor’s appointment.
Get all your fears on paper. Remember werewolves don’t come into the light!
What’s the Worst That Could Happen?
Then, let your imagination run wild. If you go to the doctor, he will find a mass the size of Detroit, and you will explode. If you call, they will shout at you and send an assassin.
Really? Is that usually what happens?
Listen to the voice of fear. Irrational panic makes poor predictions.
While you may get bad news, it is never as severe or lethal as our minds concoct it.
What Will Happen If I Act?
Then, there’s another question. What happens if I refuse to let fear dominate and stop me?
A doctor gives you a clean bill of health, or, at worst, treatment options.
Friendships mend. Long-lost hobbies spring to life and provide joy.
There is a good rule for evaluating anything in life called the ten-year rule. In this case, in 10 years, if I act, what could happen
A 66-year-old wanted to go back to college but was reluctant. “Did you know that by the time I get finished I will be 73?” A friend replied, “if you don’t go, you will still be 73.”
Make the call. Take the drive. Whatever it takes, face the worst. Most of the time it will work out for the best. You will never know if you don’t try. At least, once done, you know, and you can relax.
What werewolves do you need to evict?