Fear of the known

Bill-newby L. G. William Chapman, B.A., LL.B.

When it comes to fear, I have quite enough to occupy me with the very real fear I know. I haven’t any need to embellish it by phantasmagorical imaginations. In a nutshell, my fear is “to make the dinner-hour the nucleus of the day, and to spend the rest of it, as an old dog spends it, asleep in the sunshine or in the shade”.  This portends a dreary and lifeless prospect, hardly what is the desire of a man “who felt it to be the best definition of happiness to live throughout the whole range of his faculties and sensibilities” (The Scarlet Letter, Nathaniel Hawthorne). Providence has hopefully contemplated better things for me.  Until then I have accepted that I am on my own to do what I can to overcome my fear.

To be sure the dread is not universal.  Many people are content to fulfill their appetites, no more.  Granted it is arguable that discovering one’s faculties and sensibilities is an appetite of sorts and therefore the distinction may amount to one without a difference. It matters not. My object is not the appeasement of some preferred social standard, rather the satisfaction of my hardwired desires. Mine happen to involve creation not merely consumption. If there are those who are pleased to spend their time and energy and the hours of the day one way or another, even if it lacks a hint of inventiveness, perhaps they are blessed. I concede it may be a plague to pine for something apparently more esteemed, possibly out of reach.

Capitulation is neither the answer nor the alternative.  The morning alarm is the call of the sentry for proof of identity.  From the very moment of awakening the test is to fulfill one’s talents. There is of course Biblical strength to the admonition, assuming that matters, though my personal generation is from within rather than from without.

I have considered whether after a certain age it may be more advisable to avoid attempts at novelty and growth and to dwell instead upon fermentation, the sedentary hallmark of many a fine concoction.  My objection to that particular tact is that it is passive in spite of its assertion of the unquestionable value of reading, for example.  Once again my preference is to draw from within rather than from without.  The corollary is that perhaps there is nothing left upon which to draw, an empty well so to speak.  This really puts the “old dog asleep in the shade” metaphor in context;  it is more than just a condition, it’s a sentence.

It is tempting to manufacture reasons for the fading of one’s creative amplitude.  One could blame the absence of ingenuity upon a supposed want of opportunity.  If one’s erstwhile career were spent in the resolution of problems, it is at least logically possibly that there can be no answer without a question.  This is a misguided channel of investigation as it addresses the symptom not the cause.  It must be admitted that the time has passed to return to the forum of one’s former agitation where the dying embers have all but been extinguished.

Everything I know about capitalism leads me to conclude that one must first identify one’s resources then exploit them.  There are so many examples of those who have elevated themselves from what may have been a rubbish pit in the minds of others.  It certainly requires application and diligence.  This isn’t going to happen on its own.  It will likely help to be driven by fateful need or burning desire.  In any event personal expression means getting involved, not merely sleeping in the sunshine.