Do you fear irrationally? Let me rephrase that.
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I’m not talking about the generally-known, let's say common fears - so not about things like heights, dark places, and the likes. But, the slightly off-beat ones. Or rather weird ones. Like, in my case, roller coasters.
(Yes, you read that right).
Actually, that might not be completely true. I don't hate roller coasters. In fact, I enjoy watching them. But most of the times, from a distance. And preferably with some sort of barricade between us. I also enjoy watching the reaction of the people on roller coasters. There's something rather joyful about the way they behave. Even in those screams, there's a certain masked thrill, I suppose. And much like some others, a roller coaster is probably one of the few ‘activities’ where we can possibly measure success from the decibels of the screams of the rider.
Yes, I’m scared. I don’t think I’ve always been this way though. I remember, with vivid clarity that too, getting on roller coasters as a child and how much of a tantrum I’d throw if I couldn’t get on one. In fact, there used to be the mega-hyped-about coaster in a theme park in the UAE (I’m talking about in the late 80/early 90s). I can’t remember too much of it, but it had this massive O loop that the seating train had to go through a number of times. And almost every person who exited the coaster would stumble on their feet as if they had a little too much to drink. And their reactions were usually, as a certain credit card company would say, "priceless". (Except the ones who would sometimes throw up, of course)
As a child, you sometimes get curious about why everyone reacted that way. And sometimes, you’d even think (buoyed by a false sense of confidence) that you could possibly go through it and come out unscathed. There’s that sense of misplaced ‘ignorance’ that stops us from thinking about the consequences. Every kid goes through that phase - the age may differ, but we’ve all been through that. And what makes you more curious is when the ride operator looks at you and says ‘You’re too small/young’ for this ride. I don’t think I can possibly explain the feeling at that moment, but it’s something that’s rather hard to digest. It’s like a weird sense of rejection.
So, as I grew older, I grew more determined to visit ever damn theme park I could and get on every single roller coaster possible. And to some extent, I did. I’ve lost track of the number of roller coasters that I’ve gone on over the years. Oh, and the types - at the risk of sounding a bit like Trump - so, so many. Ones with multiple infinity-style loops, one where your feet are dangling as you feel like you’re stuck between the talons of a giant eagle that’s decided to somersault mid-flight, upside-down ones - you name it, I’ve probably been on it.
Until, one fine day, I stopped.
*pause for effect* ;)
Alright, this is going to sound ridiculous, but a certain ‘movie’ messed with my head. Now, I’m sure some of you (especially the ones who’re usually excited about predicting the end of a book or story) could have probably guessed which one it is. And you’re right. It was Final Destination. Now, I am a person who voluntarily stays away from horror. Movies, books, shows. I mean, I’m someone who freaked out over Zee Horror Show back in the 90s. I am probably (and quite literally) the ONLY person in the history of that show to get spooked by it. And as far as horror stuff goes, that’s pretty much the funniest horror show ever. I mean, you could literally see the ketchup drip from the actors' faces. My son dressed up as a ghost for Halloween was more spooky than that show by the Ramsay brothers. But yeah, it did the trick as far as young me was concerned.
What really spooks me about horror movies/books/images is this one big thing. And it’s a classic case of ‘It’s not you, it’s me’. I have a hyperactive imagination when it comes to all things spooky. So, the part where I get scared isn’t usually during the movie. It’s after that. Like when I’m lying in bed at night, and it’s dark and I suddenly feel thirsty and realise I have to go to the kitchen to get water. Or when there’s a sudden noise in another room. I know it sounds silly, but it’s like there’s this part of my brain that refuses to switch off when the other part says, ‘It’s just a movie. Or a book.’
Anyway, moving back to rollercoasters, I don’t remember which one it is (can’t believe they made like five or six in that series, where the overall plot is - you can’t escape death. Or in their case, gruesome death), but that movie put it in my head that every roller coaster I get on is potentially a time bomb waiting to go off.
Okay, before you smirk, I know how silly that sounds. I think so too. Because, in theory, I’m more likely to be driven over by a car (provided the driver doesn’t care much about denting their car in the process) or be bitten by a stray dog than a couple of nuts and bolts coming off my rollercoaster seat and me plummeting to my death. Yet, I still pet dogs and cross the roads on a fairly regular basis.
I know it’s probably all in my head. Okay, it is all in my head. But it’s been at least 10 years since I last got on a rollercoaster. And it’s not for the lack of trying. Every time I see one, I try to tell myself that I should do it. That it’s going to be okay. But somehow I always chicken out.
I guess that’s the same challenge with a lot of things in life too. A certain fear of the ‘unknown’, I suppose. Or things not going the way you expect it to.
But on life’s karmic rollercoaster, you just buckle up and brace yourself for the ride, quietly screaming in your head in the hope that at some point, it will stop and you will stumble out, a little woozy and dizzy, but with an experience that nothing else can give.
Maybe that's the way to tackle everything. Just jump in and face it.
*imagines being stuck in a room full of spiders*
Yeah, maybe not for everything. But certainly worth a try sometimes.
So, do you have an irrational fear? Or two?