The Power of Fear (POB WOTW #005)
Fear is primal. Its power, apparently, is everlasting within the physical bodies of humanity. We experienced it when we were young, though we may not remember. Unrestrained, the power of fear is toxic or intoxicating depending upon one's mental state. In the hands of an oppressor, wielding fear becomes a temporary tool for obedience. Restrained and controlled by the individual experiencing it, however, the power of fear can become a tool to overcome obstacles once thought impossible.
Power is an ability. It allows us to accomplish a task or create a device that can achieve the mission for us. Devices we make have a power of their own. Given a good fuel source for that object, it can perform feats impossible for an ordinary human.
Power is also a concept. It represents the control we can wield over ourselves and someone else. When coupled with emotions like fear, it means fear itself becomes a tool for management.
Vulcan Death Watches
One tool of fear utilized by society is in the training of their soldiers. Constant drills are meant to simulate real-life catastrophes. Continuous sleep deprivation, starvation, and people screaming at you non-stop work to break the bonds formed since childhood and reattaches them to the service.
Such an act becomes necessary since you otherwise would not learn the expected behaviors in such a short period. How could you possibly know dozens of pages of procedures if you're constantly worrying about your family or significant other? Let's put the fear of death inside you instead to shift your focus.
And so was my first experience with Vulcan Death watches. The senior sailors onboard my submarine used that term to describe a series of drills over 36 hours. It starts with a simple drill, and then alarms start blaring. There's a fire in the galley, and it's all hands on deck...BATTLESTATIONS.
The first thing they do to you is blind and suffocate you. You can't see because they put a bag over your eyes. You put a respirator and plug into breathing connections across the ship. You need to have these locations memorized, or else you'll lose consciousness before reaching the next air connections. And then you join the fire teams, put on your firefighting gear, and man the hoses fighting the fire. After about an hour, soaking in sweat and dehydrated, the drill ends. The Commander reviews your performance over the loudspeaker.
And so the drills continue, in another 4 hours, 6 hours, or 30 minutes depending upon your performance and the Commander's prerogative until 36-hours expires. You could sleep for 30-minutes for the next drill or not at all over 36-hours. Each time the alarms wake you, your adrenaline courses through your veins. And so, the power of fearing for your life and lack of sleep becomes a tool for learning.
Why Vulcan death watches? Because when running continuous emergency drills over 36 hours, you are drained and emotionless. The only logic you'll follow is that given by your superiors. Mission accomplished.
The Pool Party
It might have been a party that day. Everyone was having a good time and enjoying the sunlight and cool breeze. A wrong step later, and the plunge was made. I was too young and small at the time to enter the deeper area of the pool. I didn't realize taking that next step meant my head would go under. I went under and didn't know how to swim.
Where was she? Please help me. I can't tell where I am. I can't breathe. My chest starts to hurt.
There she is! Why doesn't she look at me? She is talking to someone else and laughing. At what? Me? I tried to breathe. The feeling is awful.
And the air starts to burn...
Coughing fits start, and I'm shaking and on the ground outside of the pool. Someone with a deep voice is yelling at me. Angry. I must have gone somewhere I wasn't supposed to go. Is he mad, though? He's yelling out at someone. Maybe I didn't get him angry, but someone else did. And it's her. She didn't know anything, but she looks at me and seems mad? Embarrassed? I'm not sure anymore, but I know I'll never get into the water again. Maybe next time, someone won't be there to help me.
A Turning Point
I hate myself and the way I look. Disgusting. I need to get fit. I need to be healthy, but I'm too young to buy the things I think I need from those magazines. I'm so tired of being afraid. I used to enjoy going out with the family and enjoying the day. Now I feel nothing. Between the barbed wire, the darkness, and the drowning, I haven't felt the same.
I'm claustrophobic and afraid of water. I didn't know these terms at the time, but I knew how they felt. In my youth, fear drove me away from things I once loved.
Only one option remains. How far am I willing to go? I make the call and the decision. I heard about something happening tomorrow morning. I don't know if I can do it.
It was my first year of high school, and tryouts for the swim team were advertised. I didn't know how to swim. I only knew I had to make a change. I didn't know why this change needed to occur. It was 5 AM on a cold October day. The swim coach left the pool cold because that's how real men swam. It was my turn at the edge of the pool. I was supposed to jump in and swim 50 yards. I wanted to throw up and go home. I needed to be away from this pool.
My mother's laughing with her friend again. I breathed in the water again. The man, angry that my mother wasn't paying attention, told me to embrace the pain and my fear. He told me to calm myself and relax so my body could rid itself of the water.
There's something about freezing cold water that jolts your consciousness. I came out of that memory and saw how the others were moving. I started doing the same. I was choking on some water I breathed in, but I was swimming. Slowly inching myself to the end of the pool. I was exhausted at the end, thinking I would pass out. The coach helped pull me out of the water and welcomed me to my first swim and my entry into the swim team.
Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay
Fear is the mind-killer if you allow it. It will debilitate you if you welcome it into your arms. The power of fear is the power of conception. If you feel it is overwhelming, then it will smother you. It will be the drowning waters you allow into your lungs during your fright. The cold will comfort you as you collapse to its embrace.
Control your fear before it controls you. Seek the calm of life to soothe your heart enough to embrace that fear to propel you to a better place.
Thank you for reading and following on throughout my Hive journey. I no longer hate the way I look or fear the things that plagued me in my youth. I push forward because that's the only direction I allow myself. I look back to learn from the lessons life taught me and hope that I can be a better man. The power of fear is only as great as you allow.
Get out there and make things happen. Don't run from your fears. Run towards it and use it as steps to overcoming your obstacles. Make the power of fear your self-improvement device and pull yourself to greater heights. I was 15 years old when I realized this fact. I wish I was younger when I did.
Special thanks goes to @regenerette. Your posts are motivating and it inspired me to write this article.