Fear is a strange thing. Personally, I fear snakes and a specific fish that dwells near the bottom of the water that you call a snoek in Dutch - or pike in English. My father once told me enthusiastically that A.) These fish have magnificent teeth that stand at a certain angle in their mouths so that once they bite their prey it stands no chance of wriggling away, and B.) A lot of these fish lived in the water near our house where I was playing every day. (Thanks Dad!)
The boy hidden in a fish, etching by David Hockney, 1968
These fears rule in the nighttime. For the daytime I have other fears. Phone calls by unknown numbers terrify me, for example. Don’t ask me why. I once led a workshop for children at Buitenkunst about ‘adult fears’. The children came up with hair-raising fears, like the fear that others are better than you, the fear that everything you cook tastes bad, the fear of being forgotten and the fear of wrinkles.
Your muscles contract, your heart rate goes up, your breath becomes shallow. Fear is not an emotion that is well liked. But it also feels good, doesn’t it? Why else would we watch scary movies, read thrillers or visit haunted houses?
There is a fairytale by the Brothers Grimm called The Boy Who Left Home to Learn Fear – see the post below - in which a young man wants to learn how to shudder. It is part of the beauty of being human - to be able to shudder, to dread, to fear. No matter if it’s ghosts, pikes or wrinkles that you fear.