My Dad saved a lot of money.
When he lost his job during the 2008 banking crisis my family was fine.
I feel blessed that looking back the only thing that changed during that tumultuous time was my Dad was around the house more often and not happy about it.
And yet, as a freelance accountant today, if my Dad loses jobs or completes jobs, he shuffles around the house on the verge of a panic attack.
He has more money saved than he ever has and no serious financial hardship has ever befallen my parents. But those facts do not abate his anxiety.
For years, this contradiction was lost on me. How can someone be afraid of something that has never happened before?
Today, I got my answer.
I was walking through the lobby of my job and saw a beautiful tall blonde in a black sweater and black capris.
I don’t know this woman or spoken to her, but I have seen her around. She’s one of the greeters in our building and often waves to the various people walking in.
I think she’s beautiful but never really had the opportunity to strike up a conversation. Someone has always been talking to her or I was in a rush to get to work. But that night I did. She was walking alongside me in the lobby and I thought to myself why I don’t I say hi? I felt a lump rise in my stomach and I quickly walked the other direction, away from the possible conversation.
I am generally relaxed, comfortable, and a great conversationalist. And even though my dating history is almost non-existent women do like and enjoy talking to me.
None of that mattered.
When I got the chance to talk to this pretty girl, the one I’d wanted to talk to for awhile, I had no words. I was afraid, probably of rejection; and that fear decided my next move. No matter how much logic we throw into the mix, the emotional response is often more powerful.
The limbic system almost always decides our eventual actions even if our life experiences refute our feelings. This fascinates me. Do all the nonsensical things that we do derive from powerful emotions greasing our wheels? No matter how much sense something makes we’re still capable of doing the opposite?
I briefly thought about what I could do next. The next time I see this girl, I’ll say hi. Or if she is talking to someone, I’ll just wave. Conquer a little bit of my trepidation at a time. Make it so easy so I can’t help but do it. Perhaps a molehill is a good way to start rather than a mountain.
But I won’t forget this. I find contradiction at the core of my interest in storytelling and human dynamics. Conflict is there, confusion is there, and often if I look hard enough- meaning.
Irrationality is at the heart of fear. And I wonder if it’s also at the heart of our human experience.