Tuesday, April 28, 2009


Fear is everywhere, from basic ones such as getting wet in the rain, to more blinding ones, such as dying from swine flu. I meet so many people every day, on the street, in cafes, in the schoolyard, people who are working hard to cope with the whole range of their worries. As they speak or as I do, they close their eyes, try to breathe through the moments of panic.

A woman yesterday told me of her fantasy to get over her rain aversion, to go out and play in the pouring rain like a kid, to find a friend who can do that with her. "A rain date!" I said. Perfect. I loved that idea. I gave her a gold star. She was indulged as a child, she told me, and has spent a lifetime trying to overcome being coddled and protected. She works hard every day to take the reigns, to fight her demons and let herself go out unprotected from the elements.

I have recently worried far less about the rain, walking through it without complaint, enjoying not have to plan and prepare for it, to protect myself. Granted, I usually have nowhere to be looking nice, I can have wet hair and pants and not care. I like it that way, but I know I am lucky in that. Still, I know plenty of people with nowhere to be who take major precautions, curse the blessed rain. Why? It is control, I sometimes think. We listen to the weather, look at satellite photos to try to predict and control what we cannot know for sure. I laugh when people say its definitely going to rain, or not. They do not know.

This morning, I ran into a man I used to see daily at a cafe I frequented. He saw me writing and mentioned that he couldn't write his way out of a paper bag when he was younger. "I failed communications three times," he said. "It's something I just don't get." He learned, though, when it meant money in his pocket, when he had to write convincingly for business. Somehow, from his one-time fear of writing, we got on to the subject of sexual attraction and his fear of being attracted, he said, "to so many women."

I smiled. "Of course," I said. "Sexuality is life force. If you give it up, you know what happens?"

"You die?" he said. I nodded. Giving up on the idea of attraction to others, to connecting with who you connect with is like dying before you die, I'm convinced of it. Films, books, everything are all about the fantasy of allowing those things you might deny yourself in 3D, things you fear.

"I refuse to give it up..." he said. "But it scares me a little."

A little? That is, likely, an understatement, although maybe it is true for him that it is only a little, since he is so willing to cop to it. He is divorced, has a girlfriend, but still talks to women, like the one he just couldn't not speak to on the A train recently. "She was SO interesting!" he said.

I love that he allows himself the possibility of passion, even for a moment. For that, he got a gold star

My husband called me in a panic about the swine flu. There is so much in the media, all around. So many people went to Mexico over Spring Break. I told him he's insane. If we worry about that, we need to worry more about crossing streets in busy Brooklyn. More people die every year from car accidents. And, if in fact there is an outbreak, what can we do? We'll deal with it. Or we won't. Like the rain. Whether or not we try to prepare, all we can do is deal with it when it comes.

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