Creativity is Adaptability is How We Deal With Fear

If you have ever had a daydream, or imagined how a conversation with someone you know might go, you have the power of imagination. If you imagine something, you invite its possibility into your thinking. That’s a window of opportunity for wonder and worry to get in your head, and you get to choose who climbs in the window.

Consider  The Grimms’ tale “The Boy Who Left Home to Find Out About the Shivers.” You never see him sweat. Time after time he gets himself into some weird situation, considers the information on hand, and acts according to his choice of wonder over fear.

Sure, he broke a clergyman’s leg; but, it wouldn’t have happened if the guy had taken his three clear warnings seriously. Sure, he accidentally set a couple of corpses on fire; but, he had the wherewithal to put the fire out and distance the corpses from the flames after that. Sure, he lost some money gambling; but, dude, he was gambling with ghouls in a haunted castle over a game of nine pins/bowling that they played using bones for the pins and skulls for the balls.

Creativity is Adaptability

Being able to adapt to a given situation is a kind of improvisation. You know, where we get the word improv. Adaptability is creativity is key to whatever the hell you were planning on doing with your life.

So-called creative people do not have a monopoly on improvising or adapting. What they have is the habit of inviting wonder into their daily lives. The more we wonder and learn, the better we are at adapting.

One-by-one The Boy goes up against a clergyman dressed as a ghost, seven corpses hanging serenely from a gallows, and three nights full of annoyances from a haunted castle. Every situation he sees what he sees and makes a decision how to act. It appears that each time he comes up against something that he’s completely unfazed, but is he?

Fear is Natural

No one is 100% worry free, and that’s a good thing. Worry, doubt, and uncertainty are all just alternative names for fear, and Fear is your friend. It lives in what’s known as our “Lizard Brain” and is 100% concerned with issues of safety and survival.

Unfortunately for Fear, human beings aren’t just concerned with our safety anymore. We’re also concerned with our well-being, with most of those issues not really being “life or death.” This puts Fear into overdrive because – as part of the Lizard Brain – it has an on-off switch, but there’s no volume dial.

The on-off switch in itself is a funny thing because it isn’t actually one switch. It’s a multitudinous cluster-cuss of switches with an individual switch for each and every thing you will ever come across with every switch automatically “on.” Your job, then, is to go through ALL the switches and turn them off one-by-one.

Dealing with Nature

What finally gets The Boy to shiver is having a bucket full of cold water and live fish thrown on him while he’s asleep. It wasn’t any of the situations that might have gotten him thinking about death. He learned the shivers by having his sleep ruined.

When he is able to see a thing before him, to hold it in his mind “knowing” what it is (he appears to view death as the same as sleep, much like a child thinking the family dog was taken out to a farm), he has enough confidence in that image that he has no need to fear it. When any piece of the puzzle is missing, then it’s time to freak out. He climbed into a warm bed, fell asleep beside his beautiful and loving wife; in the dark of night he was shocked awake by something cold and wet and slimy and moving about in all directions and had no idea what was happening to him.

Fear is our Lizard Brain helping us to avoid life-threatening situations. The Shivers are those moments of emotional discomfort that confuse our Lizard Brain into acting for fear of death. If a lighted candle and gentle explanation (along with some dry clothes and a new warm bed to sleep in, plus the promise of no more such malarkey) can get The Boy back to sleep, then shouldn’t some similar adjustment or adaptation help you to flip off whatever non-death switch happens to be bothering you?

The Shivers may feel like the end of the world, but they’re really just an end-of-the-world movie you can turn off any time. You can tweet me on that.