Number one. The way it seems to be so easy for us to dehumanize people. Those relatives we don't speak to, those ways that are so backward. that person who should rot in hell. That person who deserves it, who deserves nothing. This person who deserve better, who deserves the world. That other is the other side of the self. It's forgetting this that scares me.
Number two. Paper cut on eyeball. Just a big old slice by envelope or printer paper. Straight across the brown part and the black part and the white part and all the blood vessels like a knife halfway through an onion.
Number three. A tree falling on me. Maybe from snow or lightning, or no reason.
Number four. Dying for no reason. It's not cancer. It's not a car accident. It's not old age or complications. It's just a blink, and nothing, with no explanation, just an expiration. No story, no way to make sense of it. No dramatic arc and no afterlife. No understanding, no preparation, just instant and total void for no reason.
Number five. Unwittingly reenacting the sad past. What if I am just living my life not realizing I am recreating the very same events that led to tragedy or disaster? Shouldn't I, to be on the safe side, just do everything differently than I would normally do to counterintuitively counteract the possibility I'm unwittingly reenacting the sad past?
Number six. Haven't we as a country kind of already in reality reenacted the sad past? Aren't we still doing it?
Number seven. Realizing I studied for the wrong test. This is that nightmare of taking a final test after skipping class all year translated into waking life. Thinking the airport security line couldn't possibly take this long. Thinking your kids will be just fine, and they aren't. They really aren't.
Number eight. Fear of repeating myself. Maybe I am scared that repeating myself is just a way to avoid wondering what I'm scared of under those stories I already know.
Number nine. That aliens from outer space are actually aliens from inner space living and thriving in our own individual cells.
Number ten. What if the very act of naming what scares me is in fact magnetizing those very things to me? That not just mine, but all of our greatest fears are coming right back at us. That we have dehumanized each other, and we haven't learned from our mistakes, and we have repeated them, and we didn't realize that the aliens were actually us. And that something that I never imagined could be a weapon, a piece of paper, could slice through a delicate complex and vulnerable part of me. It scares me that we don't know what we're doing that we can't see beyond our own patch of sidewalk, our own kids, our own eyes. I guess I'm not so much scared of us as scared of what we're not. What I'm not. What I can't even name or know but must learn. Somehow. This time around.
My name is Brenda Shaughnessy and these are 10 things that scare me.