What are you afraid of?

Vance Joy wrote some lyrics once ‘I’m afraid of dentists and the dark. I’m afraid of pretty girls and starting conversations.’

For me, for most of my life it was dentists, birds, and needles. After doing exposure therapy and tapping and journaling I can be near birds, I can get a needle or give blood, and I can take myself off to the dentist without much fuss these days.

But oh dear, last week was awful. I had a crown put on my back top molar. I have a small mouth and even as I wrote this (a day later), I was in pain. Not from the actual crown, but from the pulling and prodding of the hands of two men for about an hour and a half. It did settle down quite quickly and I’m booked in tomorrow for the final assault… I mean fitting.

The worst is over but last week I texted my sister before I went in, to get some love. She asked me what I was actually afraid of. ‘What’s your worst fear,’ she wrote.

Okay, you asked… My worst dental-related fear is that I will die.

I am not joking. Over all those years I was terrified of the dentist, I created this elaborate story where the dentist would fuck up. Like smash my teeth accidentally and I would be in all this pain and then I would choke on my own blood then I would be dead. There may have been a defibrillator involved.

I would picture them handing my bag to my husband, saying, ‘We’re so sorry, there was nothing we could do.’

Dramatic, I know.

Five hundred years ago, Michel de Montaigne said, My life has been filled with terrible misfortune; most of which never happened.

I may have coined a term for this: fearful imaginings.

It’s pointless to waste time rehearsing potential calamities because the stuff that happens never happens the way you think it will.

We’ve had some pretty hectic floods here this past week. A friend was rescued from her house through the upstairs window. She has lost everything. Her studio, her current body of work, her household goods. She and her dog got out by the skin of their teeth.

People have lost everything. People have lost their lives.

And on the other side of the world from me, a psychopathic regime has invaded a neighbouring country. Can you imagine if your neighbour came into your house with a gun and said ‘this is my house now. Get out or I’ll kill you.’

This has been happening for centuries and I guess we all thought we were evolving? When the Taliban took over control of Afghanistan the world was shocked but no one did anything. So much had been ‘done’ already. Much good. And much very bad.

This is our worst nightmare. People say they’re scared of public speaking or spiders but we are rightly terrified of change, of having our lives torn out from under us.

These recent floods are our third One in a Hundred Year floods in the past 11 years. Climate change and its accompanying weather extremes is happening. Successive Australian Governments have been ignoring it for at least 20 years.

Especially after the past two years, most of us are exhausted. ‘When will everything go back to normal’ we want to know. There’s no normal. There’s not even a new normal. We’ve always been flying by the seat of our pants and there by the grace of the goddess!

But like going to the dentist, we can freak out and run from the building. We can put it off. Ignore the problem. But over time these things fester.

All we can do is strap in and use the only super power we have – exercising the choice of how we respond/react to the world around us.