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More than once, people have asked me what my biggest fear is.

I've given this a tremendous amount of thought as I've gone about the business of living. Always, in the back of my mind is, "Am I afraid of this?" and "Should I be afraid of this?" and "Why am I not afraid of this?"

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Just to be clear, these are the most common symptoms of fear (which are milder than the symptoms of phobias, because we're not talking phobias, just fears):

Feeling anxious
Getting a butterfly feeling in your stomach
Being nervous upon encountering or experiencing the thing you fear
Feeling queasy or slightly nauseous
Elevated heartrate
Dilated pupils
Rapid breathing
Dry mouth
Sweaty palms
Tense muscles
Phobia symptoms are much stronger, often paralyzing, so we aren't going to mention phobias, just fears.

Toddlers have different fears from adults.  Their fears are more concrete, and often outgrown.

Bad Dreams
Being alone
Mask, Costumes, Mascots
In literature, the top fears are different than they are in real life. I'm not sure why.  Real life adults fears can provide very gripping plots for stories. Karen Thompson Walker, in a TED Talk, discusses the fears most written about.  Those fears are:
Avoiding death for the wrong reasons
Hunger or other severe physical deprivations
Killing someone
Illness and/or aging
Law, or more specifically, lawyers
That life doesn't resemble fiction/literature
What are people really afraid of? It really depends on where you look.  The lists vary. Most are concerned with phobias - extreme fears.  I was interested in just ordinary, everyday frissons, little fears, the things that cause people to pause before they go on.

The Self Help Collective considers these to be the most common fears:

Public speaking
The dark
Listverse lists these as the top 10 fears:
Loosing your freedom/being imprisoned
The unknown
Death and rejection are on all three lists, so we can surmise those 2 fears are fairly common.  The two non-literary lists also share failure as a fear. But after that, it seems to be quite a mix of fears.

I'm kind of fascinated by what authors most commonly write about. Are these fears more common among authors - or are they the fears that sell the best, the fears that evoke the strongest images?

I've also spent a lot of time wondering what my fears are. I have a lot of cautions - like driving on ice.  I'm not afraid to drive on ice, I simply hate doing it.


Living in Oklahoma, where we have so many small earthquakes, like the one last week that pulled this strut from the ceiling in my office, I haven't really developed a fear of earthquakes. I know they can be bad, but I think I take a fatalistic view - by the time the earth is shaking, it's too late to do much except wait it out.  There is no warning system for earthquakes like we have for hurricanes and tornadoes.

Earthquake Damage (earthquake damage))

Perhaps it's because I prepare for all the things I might have been afraid of and have plans in place to deal with them if they arise that I have so few fears. Maybe, if I encounter something I am afraid of, I'll do like Xoco and find a cozy place to hide.

Xoco Cave

What do you think of these lists of fears?

While you're thinking about it, enjoy all the luscious Tops: Top Comments, Top Mojo, and the gorgeous Picture Quilt:

March 4, 2013

Thanks to tonight's Top Comments contributors! Let us hear from YOU
when you find that proficient comment.

From bronte17:

LeftHandedMan discusses Expertise in the diary post How to be the Smartest Guy in the Room by Pluto.

It's a humdinger. Both the comment and the diary.

From annetteboardman
sfbob provides the best description of a cat in AGES in the Cheers and Jeers diary today, written by Bill in Portland Maine.
From STI
I would like to nominate what is either a Freudian slip or a typo. Either way, it is unintentionally one of the best mistakes of the year. [P.S. I feel comfortable nominating this b/c it is not embarrassing to CorinnaR.] In coolelegans diary Menendaz scandal was completely fabricated by the Right
From me:
enufisenuf quotes Princess Vespa to good effect in Kaili Joy Gray's diary Won't someone PLEASE think of the "poor rich" people?

March 3, 2013

(excluding Tip Jars and first comments)

Got mik!

  1) How brave of David Gregory by Dallasdoc — 159
  2) Once in a while, by TheGreatLeapForward — 121
  3) I agree about Reid by Dallasdoc — 120
  4) How long will it be before conservatives refuse to by More Questions Than Answers — 118
  5) Movement Conservatism couldn't function by LeftHandedMan — 105
  6) I knew all this before the Nov 2012 election by Truedelphi — 88
  7) And Mitt would have ended that Global Warming by kitebro — 77
  8) You mean like Woodward and W? by Desert Rose — 74
  9) Mrs Romney spoke the truth about one thing, by irate — 73
10) One of my friends,  a man of German descent, by irishwitch — 73
11) Joy-Ann's 1st appearance on MTP and the only by CrissieP — 72
12) There's an article somewhere today by badger — 70
13) No executive works 350 times more than their mid- by Boston Beans — 65
14) His homophobia has been out for years by Horace Boothroyd III — 63
15) The Fourth Estate is largely gone. by blueoregon — 62
16) I'm just going to steal by AnnetteK — 59
17) Question: by navajo — 58
18) Screw David Gregory. by WheninRome — 57
19) Judy Miller springs to mind by salmo — 57
20) I like this take on it... by LordMike — 56
21) I wonder whose heads he would have knocked by eXtina — 55
22) Willard was their boy by PorridgeGun — 55
23) Hence the freak out by hulibow — 55
24) I'm already the smartest guy in the room, by Azazello — 54
25) This is brilliant stuff by LeftHandedMan — 54
26) Like the Bush WH & "reporter" Jeff Gannon/Guckert? by kurious — 53
27) I think Scalia's pissed by Dallasdoc — 53
28) I was born into the lower middle class by Rogneid — 53
29) Bemoaning the Tactics of "All the President's Men" by JekyllnHyde — 53
30) BTW, I just bumped into this old Molly Ivins quote by Dave in Columbus — 51

March 3, 2013

Enjoy jotter's wonderful PictureQuilt™ below. Just click on the picture and it will magically take you to the comment that features that photo. Have fun, Kossacks!

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