Saturday, August 8, 2009


Ancient Philosophers have been quoted as saying "the measure of a man can be made by the strength of his enemies". I personally think this is a load of crap. It sounds great as a splash screen in an adventure movie. Like Nietzsche's "That which does not kill us, only makes us stronger!" At the beginning of "Conan The Barbarian".
But any fool can amass enemies. A better measure would be "the strength of his friends."
An even better measure, would be "the strength of his fears."
I wasn't personally affected by the release of the book or the movie "Jaws". I am a PADI certified scuba diver. And have been since 1973. And I grew up near the coast of North Carolina, and had seen 100's of live sharks. Both in and out of the water. But many people were:
The novel "JAWS"
Jaws was published in 1974 and became a great success, staying on the bestseller list for some 44 weeks. Steven Spielberg has said that he initially found many of the characters unsympathetic and wanted the shark to win. Book critics such as Michael Rogers of Rolling Stone Magazine shared the sentiment but the book struck a chord with readers.
The movie JAWS:
Jaws is regarded as a watershed film in motion picture history, the father of the summer blockbuster movie and one of the first "high concept" films. Due to the film's success in advance screenings, studio executives decided to distribute it in a much wider release than ever before. Not only did it set a motion picture history precedent. It literally scared people out of the water. Due in part to the fantastic creativity of Peter Benchley and Steven Spielberg.
For years everyone thought, including myself, that this was simply a product of Mr. Benchley's imagination. But if you watched "shark week" on the Discovery Channel this week, you would have learned that the entire incident in the movie actually took place in real life at the coast of New Jersey in July 1916.
During a 12 day span in that month, a shark killed several people at the beaches of a small coastal town. The shark also made a two-mile trip up a freshwater Creek where eyewitnesses watched it devour three humans. It was the first time in American history when multiple shark attacks were reported. Shortly after the killing spree a local taxidermist managed to catch an 8 foot juvenile Great White (Carcharodon carcharias, also known as white pointer, white shark, or white death, is an exceptionally large lamniform shark found in coastal surface waters in all major oceans. Reaching lengths of more than 20 ft and weighing up to 4,938 lb) and found human remains in its stomach.
I have always enjoyed movies that affected me emotionally i.e. thrillers, horror, science fiction and monster movies in general. I have enjoyed them for as long as I can remember. But I have never had a problem separating reality from fantasy. And although the Jaws movie made me jump in my seat more than one time. It, did not follow me out of the theater! It was after all a figment of someone's imagination. Or so I thought until shark week, 2009. But the fear of having my limbs ripped off, and eaten by the king of the Marine food chain still holds no particular interest to me.
I have had two deep-seated fears in my life. And neither of them came about because of a movie experience. My first fear, dawned on me during the incident I related in my earlier story where I told you about my accident with a machete.
While wearing a cast from my hip to my ankle, and having been told by a doctor I might never run again (something I did every day as a youth just for the sheer delight of feeling the breeze in my face). The horror that crept into my young mind, and has haunted me ever since was the fear of being confined to a wheelchair for life. I can't explain why! I get sick to my stomach just thinking about it.
My second greatest fear is just as far-reaching and far-fetched as the first. It came about after a dream I had at around age 20 in which I had been confined in an asylum, Involuntarily! The more I protested my sanity, the crazier I sounded and acted. Which led to only more severe confinement measures by the staff. What really got to me was the fact that I was aware my protests were going to escalate my confinement, and I still could not shut my mouth.
I've had a similar dream two more times in my life since the first one. And both times I awoke in a cold sweat shaking uncontrollably. I have no idea what spurred the dreams. But, one time when I was in the Navy while on duty I was escorting a shipmate, who had made a suicide threat, to the psychiatric hospital for observation. When we arrived at the door, I couldn't make myself walk into the facility. I froze solid with sheer panic. I wanted to run away, but I could not move. Nothing like that had never happened to me before or since. And I have collected combat pay during my military service. I tell you this, in hope of alleviating these fears and trying to put them into perspective. Thank you for your indulgence, and please stay tuned for the further adventures of my life!


AmyK. said...

I can completely appreciate the analogies and dreams you share....they all share the theme of "loss of control". In my life I also fear this loss...I have shared that I adore marine life. My first tattoo was a dolphin because I WISHED to be Flipper as kid. Being free in the water (even though I know the dolphie who played Flipper were not free)is so beautiful...but I tried to take scuba diving lessons once and the isolation freaked me out, I got a migraine and had to stop. I was devastated. I know I should try again, but I haven't. It is a loss of control for me.

I LOVE shark week...I watched the 1916 episode 3 times this week! WOW!! I had no idea that Jaws was based on this and my husband and I have been saying to each for years, "We're gonna need a bigger boat", when things look iffy for us, lol...

Your dreams are interesting to me because you have dealt with control and loss of control in your life....and the dreams follow that pattern. Dreams are part of our subconscience...either playing things out or giving us clues.

Do you think it is weird that birds scare me more than sharks? I guess no, since I don't usually encounter sharks in daily life. ;-)

Once again, thanks for sharing. I love reading your blog.

Krippledwarrior said...

Thank you AmyK...
On your blog I left a comment about watching dolphins play in the bow-wake of a warship I was on, while doing 15knots at sunset... Yes they have been one of my favorite animals, along with the male Carolina Cardinal(until just recently). But fears, even phobic fears can be confronted and overcome.