I wasn’t alive then, but I’ve heard President Franklin Roosevelt’s “fear” speech replayed so many times I can still hear the static in the background as he told radio audiences, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”
Those were profound words, and, not to take anything away from his motivational and historical comments, but lately I find there truly are a lot of things to fear.
Now that I’m past 60, I have this irrational fear of catching my little toe in my underwear some morning, falling on my face, and having no one around to pick up my undignified broken-necked body. I know the solution to this fear is to sit down on something to put on socks or underwear, but it’s darned unhandy and a waste of time.
Then there is the fear of never-ending tomato blight. This is something only a gardener would concern herself with, but believe me, it is legit. How many times have I planted, watched anxiously for the green twigs to start sprouting tomato babies, anticipating the wholesome flavor of red, juicy adults, and then had hopes dashed by tomato blight, the scourge of the land.
Or, how about the fear of death by politics? This particular phobia asserts itself through an addiction to cable network news and commentary, including setting up your DVR to record the shows you might have to miss due to being forced to perform daily living functions such as cooking, eating supper and mowing the grass. Those of us who must have our constant supply of negative fear-mongering and hackle-raising find ourselves without a sense of purpose when deprived of the chance to rage at the television. The death part comes when we become so apoplectic from all the things we have no control over, we keel over from high blood pressure or, worse, stroke.
Naturally all this worry is pure nonsense, because the only real fear we should have is that of leaving this world before making the proper connections with God and/or our fellow man prior to getting hung up in our underwear.
This is one of several columns that will be included in an upcoming book, “The New Other Mail: A Newspaper Column and a Memoir.”