Okay that was a tad dramatic. But did it scare you? Did you panic? No? Darn. I am living by a new motto you see, which goes: a scare a day keeps the doctor away. Do you have enough fear in your life?
I asked a friend today whether she missed her old home in LA or whether she preferred living in Britain. Her answer was immediate – she preferred Britain. I feel safe here, she said. It turns out in LA, she had been known to duck behind cars in the face of drive-by shootings. In a sick and twisted moment, I felt envious. Real danger. I had romantic visions of wearing a long, silk, red dress with a revolver tucked into my stockings, a rough shaven, tuxedo’d James Bond by my side and a martini still in hand as we rolled to a crouch behind a parked Mercedes. As you have probably guessed, I watch too many films.
It’s strange, though, how we crave adventure and yet dread it at the same time. I’ll walk down the street, building up a pace to Alex Clare or Outkast, and I’ll imagine myself beating off a crowd of muggers, or picking a fight with that rude supervisor I’ve always hated, or saving the Queen from a terrorist attack, with nothing but a nail file and some gum. Then a car will back fire and my shaking, useless limbs will bring me crashing back into reality. Fear is a very strong emotion. It has clear evolutionary advantages and it’s part of the reason that we’re alive. But without the mammoths and the lions and goodness knows what other predators to run from, are we missing some daily source of excitement that used to drive us?
I stand by Eleanor Roosevelt. I try my best to scare myself every day. Today it was an interview. Yesterday it was dipping my finger into melted wax. Who knows what it could be tomorrow. If it gets the heart beating and the brain backpedaling and gasping for air then it’s good for you. Fear pushes people to new heights, exercises the capillaries and offers a brief alternative to the metronome of routine. Maybe one day I’ll ask Zac Efron out on a date or dare to eat my own cooking. Maybe I’ll pluck up the courage to do karaoke stark naked on live television (I didn’t say everyone would benefit from my new philosophy). Either way, I want to be afraid. I want to be stressed. I want to live life to its full capacity. I’m chucking out (sorry, make that recycling) the energy saving bulbs and screwing in the 400Watts. Fear is not the enemy, it’s the closest thing we have to a sign that says ‘you’re doing this right’. Maybe, one day, I’ll even start a conversation on the tube.
So I disagree with Churchill and Franklin Roosevelt. It is wrong to be afraid of fear itself. Fear comfort. Fear cushy evenings in and habitual weekends. But do not fear fear.