Of all the feelings on the emotional spectrum, there is nothing so horrific, but at the same time so utterly fascinating as fear. That’s not to say it’s the most fascinating emotion in itself- for me, that honour goes to the more positive sensation of love, be it the platonic, deep-rooted love for family, friends or places, or the even more compelling, enthralling onset of romantic love, the passion and longing of which often seems like a flame overtaking and possessing the whole body and soul. No, it’s the combination of the two reactions, horror and fascination, that makes fear so interesting. Everyone cites guilt as the most pointless emotion, the one that serves no useful purpose, but, for me, fear is instinctively the sensation that feels useless- crippling as it does the human ability for aspiration and fulfilment of potential whenever it’s at its very worst.
And yet, that instinct has to be wrong, as without fear, we would cross roads without looking, swim out to unsafe distances at sea, recklessly provoke those out for an excuse to do us harm. But still, when you’re in its grip, it feels pointless- you resent its hold on you utterly, lamenting what you could do or achieve if it just left you alone, relinquished its claim to you.
From a logical viewpoint, you acknowledge its purpose, even necessity, when you’re not actually experiencing it, but when it has you, there’s no other feeling you want to banish so completely. It’s the most unwanted of emotions the brain has the capacity for, followed only by impotent anger or sorrow. When trapped within it, it feels like being in a desolate landscape, somewhere stripped and bleached of all warming light, a total void when at its worst, populated by oppressive shadows trying to fold you within their embrace and block out any memory of happier moments or knowledge that there are people and techniques that can help, that you can turn to. Nothing makes you feel so utterly alone, and in the most extreme cases, hopeless, and when you truly reflect on the sensation, you think it’s the most insidious price to have to pay to maintain a healthy survival instinct. The cruellest feeling a human being can experience, and yet, in its twisted, powerful way, the most vital. In that sense, perhaps nothing sums up the human condition quite so well.