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Conquer those fears

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Hello, my friends.

It’s been a few weeks since we last spoke, and I was going to start this column by filling you in on all the exciting things I’ve been doing and seeing and hearing and eating and smelling. However, since I’m not very good at talking about myself, and since I’m fairly certain you don’t want to listen to me talk about myself, I’d rather talk about spiders. 

Or, more specifically, the fear of spiders. 

Two days after I left the Valley Journal, I found a black widow spider in my bed. It was the first black widow I’ve ever seen and what struck me about it was how small it was. 

I know it was a black widow because of the red hourglass tattoo God had lovingly applied to its nether regions — the international symbol for “Do you feel lucky, punk? Well, do ya?”

But what struck me was its size. It was tiny, maybe the size of a dime. When you think of dangerous and deadly things, you think they should be big. I always assume that large, hairy, eight-eyed and eight-legged spiders carry enough poison to kill 90 men, so I tend to avoid them. But this thing was so small, so tiny and delicate that I had a hard time believing it could kill a hamster, let alone several busloads of people.

And yet, there it was. A tiny, delicate, beautifully black and red killing machine. Mother Nature’s slick, fast, demonic serial killer scurrying across my pillow like a wolf in sheep’s clothing.

Thankfully, I got over my fear of spiders a long time ago. 

I was digging through a window well for work a few years back. It was a hot day and every species of spider I’d ever seen had chosen that exact moment to wake up and go for a walk. I could barely move because the window well was so small, and I’m a little claustrophobic to begin with, so I felt like jumping out of my skin and screaming like a little girl. 

Then, something awesome happened. I took stock of the situation and decided that I had two choices — live in a paralyzing fear for the remainder of the day, or get over my fears and finish the job. 

Ten minutes later I was whistling and singing like I didn’t have a care in the world. I realized two things that day that have stuck with me ever since. The first is that the amount of fear a thing can inspire is, in no way, proportional to its physical size. The second was that getting over a fear is as easy as deciding you don’t want to be afraid anymore. 

Small things can be terrifying. Something as seemingly insignificant as a whispered word can trigger a cold sweat, frozen blood and a numb heart and brain. As I said, the size of thing does not dictate its power. Thankfully, there is a very simple solution. It’s the same solution I discovered in that window well and was reminded of when I saw that black widow. 

Decide that you do not like being afraid of a thing, confront that thing by standing tall and saying, “I am,” and you will no longer be afraid.

But I realize my process isn’t the same as everyone else’s, so if the above doesn’t work for you, grab the nearest shoe, flyswatter, tissue, frying pan or brick and smash whatever you are afraid of into a wet paste. Trust me, you’ll feel a lot better when you’re done.

Well, that’s all I’ve got for this week, but I’ll leave you with a final thought — If you’re afraid of spiders, you won’t last long against a zombie. 

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