Friday, September 30, 2011

Afraid of the Dark, Part 2:

Part one, which explains why I was afraid in the first place, is here.
So once I realized I couldn't go back to sleep I picked up my rosary and started saying it. I keep a loaded pistol with a tac-light on the floor by the head of my bed (there are no women or children in the apartment) and a large, razor sharp kukri knife strapped to the head board (no, it’s not paranoia. It’s just a convenient place to keep these things.) And I always have my rosary hanging from the handle of the knife. I say it to fall asleep, or if I wake up and can’t go back to sleep. If I’m awake I may as well be doing something useful, right? Ten decades later (this went on for a bit) I’m feeling a little better. I’ve thought it through pretty well. It’s kind of fun to think about fear as an intellectual exercise while you’re in the middle of. I’ve done that an awful lot and I was doing it this morning. I knew, of course, that this was not a fear with an object. There was no dangerous thing presented to my senses. It was just a fear of the diabolical. I presented the scenario to myself, “What would I do if I did open my eyes and the demon lady was standing there?” Well, honestly I think that would have been less frightening. Sort of a, “Finally. I wondered when you were going to do something,” sort of feeling. It’s always easier when you finally look your enemy in the face and dare him (or her) to do the worst.

I would have reached for the knife probably. I wouldn’t have used the pistol as a first option, because first, it probably wouldn’t accomplish anything, and second, I would be firing in the direction of my roommate’s room. Even with hollow points, I wouldn’t want to bet on the wall stopping my hollow points. On the other hand a knife stirs up a fierce warrior spirit which lessens fear. I realized that if some sort of incorporeal visitor did show up, the primary threat is simply fear. If I can’t hurt it physically, it probably can’t hurt me physically. All it can do is terrorize (this seemed crystal clear to me at the time.) Fear is a painful emotion. It feels toxic, like a burning in my throat, a jittery, unsettled feeling. I control it by long habit, but it is not pleasant. Even jumping out of an airplane is exactly the same. The fear is the primary threat, not the jump. I am consciously aware of this, especially when I am in the middle of some frightening situation, and it allows me to shove the fear off to the side and evaluate it objectively. Eventually I can force my nerves and muscles to respond to my will, despite their reluctance to do so. Breaking out of that freeze is the hard part, after that doing nearly anything can’t be worse than doing nothing at all.

After about an hour of this I finally decided to go and turn on the AC. I did stick the pistol in the back waistband of my shorts. Not that I thought it would do any good, but it is primarily a “just in case” thing anyway. Once I had a clear line of fire, i.e. with no roommate’s room in the background, if something had appeared I probably would have put a couple of rounds right in the center of where it would have had mass, if it were a mass-having type of creature. Purely on the principle of the matter, you understand.

It’s remarkable, though, how much difference it makes having the temperature right. Once the AC was going and the temp started getting down into the sixties, I was able to get comfortable and fall asleep in about one more decade.

I don’t mind not sleeping that much. When I woke up at 0345 I knew that it was likely I wouldn’t get back to sleep again, but I had already gotten about five hours and that would be more than enough to get me through the day. A night or two of poor or no sleep is not something I worry about. Eventually I will get tired and go to sleep. I don’t even really mind the fear. It isn’t so much something I feel as something I look at. It is an inconvenience that will go away eventually.

What I really mind is people who make movies like that and stick previews of them in front of quite a different kind of movie. I don’t like horror movies like that, the supernatural evil type films. I take supernatural evil quite seriously. There really is a devil, he really does hate you and he really can terrorize people. I know some people who have experienced minor levels of it in real life. I know he exists, and that he is stronger than I am, and that if he could he would like nothing better than to terrorize every living person until they went mad from fear. This is not funny. It is not a joking matter.

It does not worry me. He may be stronger than I am, but God is stronger than he is, and I am confident that God will never allow me any trial I cannot bear. To put it another way, no matter what trial He allows me, He will also give me the strength to bear it. That’s what the rosary is about in situations like that, reminding yourself of His faithfulness and trying to pass that on to whoever you’re praying for. But I have to ask, why would you think that’s a good thing to make a movie about? It’s not like jumping out of an airplane or off a bridge into a river for a thrill. This is something evil and ugly you are deliberately exposing your mind to. Why would you want to watch it or encourage those who make it? When it comes right down to it, why would you want to feel afraid? I expect I’ve done my share of frightening things, and when it comes right down to it I’m usually able to gut through it, by the grace of God. Why anyone would want to feel it for its own sake is a mystery to me. Fear sucks. Live without it when you can, face it when you have to. Filling your mind with artificial, pointless human suffering, fictional as it may be, and dosing up on the real fear it produces is a toxic, soul numbing, stupid thing to do.

That’s just my opinion. Does anyone reading this like horror movies? What is your experience of them? Why do you like them?

1 comment:

  1. Hey Ryan,
    I just discovered your blog, because I have your book ("My Dearest Sisters")and I found your blog address on the book. Wow, Ryan, I don't even know where to begin! You have grown into an AMAZING human being, and that's putting it mildly! I just finished the first two chapters of your book and found them refreshingly frank, forthright and factual (how's that for an alliterative review?!). I LOVE your candid, no-nonsense language, which makes the concepts you discuss in your book FINALLY hit home for ALL women, not just the young! I have never encountered these concepts discussed in such frank but beautiful terms in my lifetime--they always seem to be fed to us women in "platitudes"; or 'danced around' using only language that always seems to fall short of getting the point across. No more do we have to read a treatment on this subject and then shrug, saying, "I GUESS I get it". Congratulations on accomplishing the practically impossible task of discussing these issues in such a way that both sexes can mutually benefit by it and mutually grow in understanding of the beautiful roles both men and women were created to perform-and why. I'm loving your book Ryan, though I must say that I initially approached it with some trepidation, having known you since you were a little boy! Could you REALLY have, and effectively deliver, the insight on this issue that even great theologians speaking on the subject have failed to convey? Yep, I guess so, Ryan. I am deeply impressed (and educated) by you and your work! I can only imagine the stress that the writing of this book must have caused you (on so many fronts) and I recognize the great power of God backing up your efforts, and calling you to perform this work. It would be impossible not to have the greatest admiration for a man who has allowed God to work within himself the way you have! God bless you for all the struggles you have endured to reach the level of understanding you now possess on this issue. God is truly glorified in you, and in the life you struggle to lead every day!
    Before I close, I wanted to say "dittos" to your "Afraid of the Dark" posts. I have never understood what attracts a human being to horror. It seems like the world is so full of it's own horrors, that if you really wanted to mess around in that world you wouldn't have to go far to find it. And I also went to a movie recently where that particular trailer was played, and I remember thinking a similar thought as you, "crap, why did I have to see that? It'll haunt me." And though I have been visited by that image (the bathroom spectre) several times, thankfully it didn't generate the response I was afraid it might! Stupid that some people actually enjoy that stuff--it's almost as if they feel like they're impervious to evil or to it's effects. How 'scary-wrong' that is!!
    Keep up the awesome work, and keep sharing your thoughts here, too. I'm sure they will resonate in one way or another with most everyone who reads them. God bless you!!