I'm really not sure when or how it began. I remember being afraid of many different things as a child. At night, I used to rush up the slotted stairs of our back deck trying to avoid the clawed hand of the werewolf that I was sure was going to reach out and grab my 10 year old ankle. The dark hallway leading to the bathroom; I knew that if I weren't fast enough, there were unspeakable things that would snatch me through the shadowed doorways I passed and drag me into their seething darkness. You can outrun the monsters, but the fear they illicit is ultimately inescapable. It lingers long after the monsters are gone. Fear capable of making a calm sunny day into a rocket trip through your worst hell. It taints every thought of the future with the hungry revenants of the past.
After seeing the Legend of Boggy Creek sometime in my formative years, I developed a acute fear of trees. We moved to a new house and I spent my days there eaten alive by my own terror. The house was surrounded by trees. There was one right outside my bedroom window. This was life between the ages of 2 and 10. I grew out of that fear in my teens and have since been an avid climber and hugger of trees, but I've spent the majority of my life afraid of one thing or another. As I grew older I traded my fear of monsters for fear of failure and fear of growing older and traded that for fear of my own mortality. All just different monsters I guess.
I suppose I could blame all my fears on the monsters I saw as a child: The Creature from the The Legend of Boggy Creek, Bigfoot on In Search of, the Werewolves from The Howling, Michael Myers in Halloween, John Carpenter's The Thing, The Aliens...I could go on and on. Even though I was terrorized by nightmares involving all these creatures until my early twenties, I realize now that there was part of me that relished the fear, that yearned to be terrified, that bathed in it. Isn't hindsite great? At the time though, I was a jittery, frazzled, frenetic, panicky kid. I can't blame these monsters and their creators. What they showed me is only a reflection of my own fear filled interior. I should thank them...in fact I think I will.
Nothing ever compares to that blood pumping electric thrill of Michael Myers casually chasing Jamie Lee Curtis through a dark suburban neighborhood or the gut twisting dread of that walk through the Lincoln Tunnel filled with the bodies of plague victims from The Stand. Nothing can touch the nightmare bullet of Ripley running through corridors of blinking emergency lights chased by that slithering dripping daemon or the delicious sense of foreboding when Lemarchand's box begins to reconfigure itself. Nothing compares. So this in my BIG THANK YOU! Thank you John Carpenter, Stephen King, Ridley Scott, George Romero, David Cronenberg, Clive Barker, H. P. Lovecraft, Steve Niles, Mike Mignola, Berni Wrightson. Thank you for scaring me, giving me the chills, the heebie jeebies, filling me with unspeakable dread, and generally giving me nightmares. (I would also like to note that this list is by no means complete in ANY way, shape, or form.) THANK YOU!
Many decry the dark or frightening image as a thing of evil to be shunned, but I have found understanding and knowledge in embracing my personal darkness. I have come to respect fear and monsters as great teachers. The choices that monsters present to us are black and white. Unlike most of the vast grey expanse our lives, these creatures present us with a very clear cut philosophy and set of actions: You get them or they get you. Period. You can try to run and you can try to hide. Eventually though you have to face the beast and then it is only either or. In any good horror movie, it's never until the hero stops running that things finally get resolved.
So, I finally stopped running and asked all my shadows what they wanted...a blog. My shadows wanted a Blog! LOL. Actually, what they wanted was a voice, a place, a home. I spent so much time running from my fears and avoiding my personal monsters when all they wanted was a place to call home. Since I gave them this shadowy abode, they are much happier. Now I have fewer panic attacks, fewer days trudging through dread, fewer nervous digestion issues. So I'm happy they're happy...and occasionally I go down into the darkness with them and we play ball. They always have such sites to show me, lessons to teach.
Thanks to you my shadows, my fearful companions. Though I've run from and avoided and denied, you have been the truest of my companions. Always emerging again and again from the great shadow until the lesson is learned. Thank you my terrible reflections. Thank you my Darkness.