At least one time in our lives we have all experienced fear. You know the feeling – your heart beats rapidly, you sweat in places you didn’t know existed and your face is frozen in a deer in the headlights look. Simple things can cause it. A person jumping out from behind a tree yelling BOO, red flashing lights appearing in your rear view mirror when you’re only going 7 miles over the speed limit and spiders. My brother Steve was 11 and I was 7. Our bedrooms were next to each other on the second floor of our rowhome in South Philly. One day, as I was coming out of the bathroom, he pushed me into his room, slammed the door and screamed SPIDER! There, in the middle of his bed was the largest spider I had ever seen. I screamed so loud that the neighbors on both sides of our home, called to see what was happening while my parents set all time speed records running up the stairs from the basement. While catching their breath, they stepped over my brother who was now rolling on the floor laughing hysterically and opened the bedroom door. Mom scanned the room looking for me while Dad armed himself with the biggest shoe he could find intending to save all of us from the gargantuan spider. While Mom pried me out of the closet in which I was hiding, Dad approached the spider. He stopped mid-swing when he realized the spider was a mound of raisins. After assuring me the threat was over, giving Steve a tongue lashing, Mom called the neighbors to let them know everyone was fine. Thank goodness she caught them before they called Child Services. Brothers!

Fear is an unpleasant emotion caused by the belief that someone or something is dangerous and likely to cause us harm, pain or something worst. Many of our fears or phobias have names. The fear of spiders is arachnophobia. Arachnophobia is a rational fear with the distinction of being the oldest and most common fear in the Western culture. At least if I had to have a fear, I picked a popular one!

Fear is paralyzing both physically and mentally. During this unprecedented time of COVID-19, our fears have driven us indoors, forced us to look at others with suspicion and have increased the number of steps we take by at least 1,000 due to the wide berth we’re giving people. All understandable precautions however, don’t let what you can’t do interfere with what you can do. Step outside your front door or onto your balcony and take a deep breath, wave to your neighbors, or start to prepare your garden. Among all the things we can do, one of the most important is to count all of your blessings…big and small. In the words of Victor Frankl, a doctor and Holocaust survivor, “Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.” During these turbulent times, let’s choose growth and freedom.

In case you’re wondering…

Months after the ‘spider’ incident, my brother was shocked when opening his bedroom door it came off its hinges. Is there a phobia for ‘fear of sisters’? The French had it right when, in the 1800’s, they originated the phrase, “revenge is best dished when served cold.” Sisters rule!

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