Craig J. Hansen

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Blind Fear


Let’s talk about fear.

I saw a film about base jumpers, those typically short lived folks who leap from precipices and open their chutes at the last possible second. They, like all of those who defy death on purpose, hold a certain fascination for the rest of us.

That’s because most of us don’t need any more fear. For those of us with normal neural activity, daily life is usually enough, punctuated with a few character building misadventures, like driving in rush hour or eating yogurt past the expiration date.

I know fear. Before I started losing my vision, I was afraid of certain things, including losing my vision. I also didn’t like dark, cramped spaces or poverty. Losing vision has given me perspective. Now I fight fear when I don’t know if I’m standing in a driveway or a street, or when I have terrible sense of dislocation, when you know you should know where you are, but you don’t. As vision fades, the world shuts down around you, and you feel that dark, cramped space become your new world. And there’s the possibility of poverty. If you don’t traffic on your brains, however feeble, like mine, and you are a truck driver or a surgeon or a painter or a assassin, you may have to settle for a different line of work.

Strangely, in day-to-day life, I am less fearful than I have ever been. Not that I was an overly fearful person before, but I do feel a change. I don’t think I can afford a lot of fear now. I’m trying too hard to find the door or the stairs or the ice on the winter sidewalk. I do find all these things, one way or another.

So, fear must be a relative thing. Fear occurs when you sense a loss of control. You get your dose of panic hormones, something that helped our forbearers on the African plain avoid becoming hominid sushi. Perhaps with disability real fear replaces worry, or real fear replaces pointless fear, and you just get used to it.

In fact, if I could only see where the drop ends and the ground starts, I’m ready for base jumping.

Copyright 2014 Craig J. Hansen