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Funny Fears

Scott Gill is a teacher, coach, and author of “Goliath Catfish.” Follow Scot’s blog at puptentpapa.blogspot.com and read his “Front Porch Ramblings” at BlueRibbonNews.com.

(ROCKWALL, TX — September 29, 2017) The trail didn’t look as it did in daylight, and despite having a flashlight, a slight panic simmered in my chest. Was I going the right way? Forests change in the dark.  Songbirds’ chirping gives way to crickets and owls, and blaring above all is silence. No motors rumbling or the whish of a car as it barrels down a paved street. It’s the sound of being alone, isolated, which is what I was while stomping in the woods. A friend had been generous enough to let me hunt his land and I wanted to make sure I arrived well before sunup, so I walked in complete darkness hoping to find the lonely deer stand.

At least I hoped I was alone.

Dark forests play all sorts of tricks with your mind. Landmarks that were clear in the daylight seem vague and distorted under flashlight. You second-guess your position, feelings of being lost eat away at your confidence. Enter the childhood fears; as a child of the 80’s I was cursed with some of the most iconic horror-slasher movies. One of which originated in the woods: Friday the 13th, starring the hockey-masked Jason Vorhees carrying some bloody blade to the sounds of, “Shhh, shhh, shhh, haa, haa, haa.”

I finally found my stand and settled in, and soon after a coyote howls and is answered by the yelps and barks of dozens more. I’m surrounded and I wonder how many men have been killed by a pack of coyotes (which I’ve since learned the chances are about the same as me winning the lottery—something I’ve never bought a ticket for)? I sit and listen. It’s hard to relax, to be calm with all those fears and every crack of a branch and rustle of leaves has me jumping.

“There’s nothing to fear but fear itself,” seems a ridiculous aphorism but when I think of that dark morning in the woods, old FDR was right. My fears were truly irrational. I was the only armed being there. I was the most dangerous one, the top of the food chain, the predator, and everything else in those hills and trees was prey. I was statistically in more danger the day before when I made the two-hour drive to my friend’s cabin; mosquitos kill thousands more people annually than slasher-madmen wandering around. Growing up in a tough neighborhood, I always considered myself safe at home, but in reality, I was much safer in those dark woods alone because nobody else in their right minds would have been there!

So as we hit that season where the leaves change and it’s fun to surprise somebody with a little, “BOO!” Remember, most clowns are just annoying and old Jason Vorhees has been reduced to too many sequels. Have fun. Honestly, the things we seem to fear the least (car rides, crossing the street, etc.) are to be feared way more than even the dark, lonely woods, well, that is, until you go there.

Happy Halloween.

By Scott Gill of Rockwall.

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