People do not spend time thinking about the meaning of their fears. Often, fear is seen as a negative emotion that has to be defeated. Since it is viewed as a weakness, people focus on conquering their fears rather than seeking to understand their meaning. Additionally, human beings have an inclination towards optimism, which means that emotions that are not in line with positivity are disregarded. Fright does not align with hopefulness, and for this reason, many people do not contemplate the meaning of their fears.
Walker contends that there is a link between fear and imagination. People’s fears are magnified by their imaginations of what could happen. For instance, the author was scared of the earthquakes in California and frequently pictured the chandelier falling at night during such tremors. Similarly, children being scared of monsters under the bed is usually a result of active imagination. The men of the whaleship “Essex” also experienced fears such as cannibalism and starvation due to their vivid imagination. Therefore, fears are usually facilitated and amplified by a person’s imagination.
Visionaries and young children derive vivid imagination from their fears. Children with terrors such as the author’s fear of earthquakes have powerful imaginations. In the same way, visionaries are also creative thinkers due to their fears. For instance, Charles Darwin, Marcel Proust, and Charlotte Bronte are all authors who experienced worries during their adult life. These great thinkers also made a contribution in the world through their renowned writings. The author says that from young children and visionaries, we can learn to embrace fear as a channel of creativity.
Walker compares fear to “unintentional storytelling” since they have several similarities. First, similar to storytelling, fear has characters, and people are usually the main characters of their fears. Additionally, fear has a plot which constitutes a beginning, a middle, and an end. Another similarity between fear and storytelling is the element of imagery. Terrors are companied by vivid imagery such as a person eating another or human flesh being roasted over fire. Similar to storytelling, fears entail suspense because they focus attention on what will happen next. They involve thinking into the future in what is referred to as mental time travel. Due to these parallels, fear is a form of unintentional storytelling.
When people think of their fears as stories, they have better control over them. For instance, a person who is the author of their fears can learn to predict what event will lead to another. As authors of these stories, they will manage their fears better. It is also essential for us to be readers of our fears. How a person chooses to read their fears influences their lives. It determines the effect that the fear has on the individual’s life.
It is necessary to make a distinction between fears worth listening to and unfounded fears. This enables us to focus our energy on preparing a course of action in case the anxieties come true. For instance, successful entrepreneurs have productive paranoia, which means that they study their fears and prepare themselves. When the worries become reality, they are usually ready to face them. We can identify the fear that are worth listening to by focusing on the most subtle of them. The smallest fears that people experience, such as climate change, are often the most probable ones. The minor and understated fears are usually the truest ones that give an insight of the truth.
Walker, Karen Thompson. “What Fear Can Teach Us.” TED, uploaded by TEDGlobal, 2012. Web.