by Matthew Wigglesworth
This past weekend I did something a little out of the ordinary for me. OK, very out of the ordinary! I saw Steven Spielberg’s latest film to hit the box office, IT, and I saw it alone. I do not watch scary movies, like at all. But I love Steven Spielberg, and well produced movies with good acting. I could tell from the great reviews and well-made trailers that this was going to be a good movie. I also love Stephen King; the author of the book from which the film was adapted. I’m not super afraid of clowns like many people are, so that was a bonus!
I am new to Chattanooga, Tennessee, where I fulfill my role as Account Executive for Flood Marketing. Since I am so new to this town, I chose to experience this movie by myself because a) I am still working on meeting people here, and b) why not add to the fear factor? The whole movie has a really good premise. No spoilers here, but the clown, IT, feeds on people’s fears. When it attacks individual people like the kids in the movie, it attacks them because kids have simple fears, unlike adults who fear whether or not they’ll be able to make the next mortgage payment or keep their children safe. They fear like infection or rejection, and in one character’s case, she’s afraid of her dad. Consequently, it attacks that fear and uses it to make the child weak. The way they combat the clown is by not being afraid.
The idea is that most things people fear is fear itself. As Nate Laible spoke about in one of our previous Flooducation sessions, we must do things that scare us – it’s the only way to grow as individuals. So, let me tell you a story about fear that comes from Pedro Pablo Sacristán.
“There was once a town where the thing everyone feared the most was getting lost at night in the “Cave of Fear”. No one had ever returned from there, and whenever anyone got lost and ended up there, the last that was heard was a great cry of terror, followed by a few enormous guffaws. The townsfolk lived in terror that one day the monster would leave the cave. So they regularly left gifts and food at the mouth of the cave, and these always soon disappeared.
One day, a young man came to town, and, as he heard about the situation with the cave, he thought that it was unfair. So he decided to enter the cave and confront the monster. The young man asked for some help, but everyone was so afraid that not a single person approached the mouth of the cave with him. He went inside, finding his way with a torch, and calling out to the monster, wanting to talk with it and discuss the situation. At first, the monster had a good long laugh, and the young man followed the sound of the monster’s voice. But then the monster went quiet, and the young man had to carry on, not knowing in which direction to go.
Finally, he arrived at a huge cavern. At the bottom of the cavern he thought he could make out the figure of the monster, and as he approached it, he felt that something hit him hard on his back. This pushed him forward towards a hole in the rock. He couldn’t avoid it, and fell through. Believing that he was about to die, he let out one last cry. Then he heard the great guffaws.
“Darn it, I think the monster has swallowed me,” he said, while falling.
However, as he fell, he heard music, and voices. They got clearer, and when he made a soft landing at the bottom, he heard a group of people shout: “Surprise!!”
Hardly believing it, he found himself right in the middle of a big party. The partygoers were all those people who had never returned to the town. They explained to him that this place had been the idea of an old mayor of the town. That mayor had tried to accomplish great things, but was always held back by the fears of the people around him. So the mayor invented the story of the monster to demonstrate to people how such an attitude was so limiting. So the young man stayed there, enjoying the party and the company of all those who had dared to approach the cave.
And what about the town? In the town they still believe that to enter the Cave of Fear is the worst of all punishments…”
I like this story, because it tells us that on the other side of our fears there is something to celebrate and they may not be what we envisioned at all – kind of like the feeling of walking out of a scary movie, realizing that you just made it through by yourself. Usually, once someone has conquered their fears, they realize the fear was only in their head instead of real life. Being new in Chattanooga, each day I am working on branching out, meeting new people, and exploring my community. I’ve never lived in a town where I’m without familiar faces, family, or my usual group of friends. I am choosing not to fear my new home even when it’s unfamiliar to me. Settling in a new place can be scary for us all. Starting a new career, starting a family, getting out and living life can be scary, but to live life to the fullest, we must not let fear win. Get out and start conquering your fears – even if it’s a fear of the horror flick, IT! Grab the popcorn, and enjoy!