Thursday, February 25, 2010


...and what does being bound by a thousand fears meant? It is characterized by being immobile. You have the feeling of being stuck in an immeasurable space of infinite depth and width all alone and no one to turn to. There is a massive sense of of longing, hoping that somebody might be there. Having no sense of vision in the dark gives one a feeling of nothingness. Nothingness means not having anything to hold on to. That sense of nothingness engulfed my whole being. I am pinned down by a massive force of the unknown.
You are most vulnerable because they see you while you cannot see them.

A Phenomenology of being afraid of the Dark
by R.
It was a hot and humid night around 10:30 in the evening when suddenly, the lights went out. I am afraid of the dark since my childhood.

As the dark engulf my room, I got petrified and wasn’t able to move a muscle. I was bound by a thousand fears and became totally out of control.

Suddenly, I can’t see anything as my room became a sea of blackened illusion. The dark consumed my whole being. It wasn’t like anything I had experienced before.

When I regained a little of whatever composure was left in me, I grope for my cellular phone. My cel has always been a handy source of light for me in such a situation. The light from my cellphone somehow comforted me in moments of nothingness, when my eyes were rendered blind by the sudden loss of illumination.

But during that time, my cellphone failed me: low battery. Do you know the feeling of being abandoned and totally helpless? For me it was a feeling of being naked in front of total strangers, exposed to all the perils in life.

Then a second wave of fear like a raging tsunami engorged the whole of me. My mouth lets out an eerie scream that spooked my family and in seconds they are all over me, comforting me.

It was only then that I felt safe again after some minutes of endless fear that, to me, seems like an eternity.

That was an unforgettable experience for me but this paper is not about my relating my experiences but instead, it aims to scrutinize the phrase: bound by a thousand fears. I believe that what meet the eye with regards to that phrase bound by a thousand fears are not enough bases for judgmental assumption of the worst fear I have.

I may ask what I really fear most. Is it the really the dark or the knowledge or feeling that I am alone and I share what almost all people fear. The fear of the unknown, of the unseen is accepted as a natural reaction.

People have different response to fear so that it is also necessary to answer the question how does one face fear. This cannot be explained with a simple explanation. Simple in the way that a common explanation will not do to fully understand the feeling I experienced when I was bound by a thousand fears. It can be explained philosophically but it may involve a lot of philosophical dictum.

The need now is to make dual reduction of the phenomenon under dissection. So that instead of constructing explanations, I will describe the subject which is the phrase bound by a thousand fears.

I have been a bit vague in my treatise so far but being vague is only natural when one is afraid or have some fear being hidden. Now to begin, I must reminisced my experiences and find similarities in my past experiences. One of those is when I was left alone in the class room after a dance rehearsal. Though its not really that dark, the low lights gives the feeling of loneliness and I felt being bound by a thousand fears.

And so what does being bound by a thousand fears really mean? It is an emotion that is not a unique experience to me but is being experienced also by others. As different people have different response to fear, I deemed it in order to also recognize those responses. Others may try to eliminate it while others accept it and still others transcend fear.

In my own experience, it is characterized by being immobile. At the same time, I had the feeling of being in an immeasurable space of infinite depth and width all alone and no one to turn on to. There is a massive sensation of longing, of hoping that somehow, somebody may keep me company.

Having no sense of vision in the dark gives me the feeling of nothingness. Nothing means not having anything to hold on to.

That sense of nothingness that engulfed my whole being had kept me from moving as I was petrified. I am in a state of immobility and I cannot talk. All activity stopped right there and there at the instant the lights went out.

And how does it feels to be in the middle of nowhere, nowhere in the sense that nothing can be seen in the absence of light which in this case is the ceasing of function of an electric bulb that converts electrical energy into light energy and light energy into heat and so on at so fort.

As I realize that the lights went out, and as I became motionless, my ears seem to also malfunction. Everything seems to stop. As the lights went out, the radio, the television sets stopped as well and when my celphone failed to give off light, I began to realize that I have nothing. I do not have anything that can give me back my visibility. All are gone.

Being all alone in the dark gives me the feeling of being pinned by a massive force of the unknown.

The feeling of something has me in control though there is not evidence of it but you feel it’s there is something that will really kick all the courage in your gut and make you feel so weak and vulnerable.

Vulnerable because you feel that all the other unknown being can see you while you cannot see them. For me, darkness is like a veil of evil that is using a subterfuge to gain control over me and hound me like a black ghost.

I am in a state that my mind is debating with my self and I cannot make any reasonable decision. I felt that after the lights went out, everything around me has transformed into something sinister and that thousand fears bound me like prisoner’s chain.

The dark makes me feel conquered with nothing to free me. It makes me feel like a little a lost soul in limbo.

I do not know where I can find refuge because all that I can see was lost. The total darkness has totally consumed my being like the Biblical Jonah being swallowed by a huge whale. All hope and faith has abandoned me.

I only felt safe when members of my family came rushing to my rescue all have flashlights focusing the beam of hope, the light being given off by the battery operated bulb, on my face.

That was the only time that I felt safe again and, oh, what a refreshing feeling that was.

Going back to my experience, I have tried to examine my self whether or not I can overcome that fear by eliminating, transcending or accepting it. Eliminating fear takes a lot of effort and it is almost impossible for me to think of reasons that eliminate my fear of the dark once the lights goes out. Transcending it may be effective but I find it so hard to concentrate when I am gripped with fear and panic is creeping fast. And how about accepting fear? Acceptance, I found out, is not really a way of overcoming fear because as I accept my fear, I became more vulnerable to panic attack.

As I said earlier, others may have different response to fear and that is the difference made by being courageous. Courage does not mean the absence of fear but of being able to conquer it in the sense that one can still think and reason while being bound by a thousand fears. But this paper does not intend to speculate on the feelings of others and on how they will respond to a situation similar to my experience.

To summarize, the eidos of the phrase bound by a thousand fears is like a metaphysical experience of being petrified, of being immobile and of being helpless. But take note that these feelings are not really different and separate feelings. They are emotion that embodies the feeling of fear.

Finally, when I peruse the phrase more closely, I found that the feeling of being motionless and of being helpless is not really what it seems. They are just abstract feeling that you can feel but are not really there in the physical sense.

It can be best differentiated by the fear and hurt you feel when you accidentally cut yourself with a knife. That feeling is something you cannot choose not to feel because it is there. But the feeling of being immobile and of being helpless is less real because you can choose not to feel it and have a different emotion in reaction to darkness.

I felt being motionless and helpless as my instinctive response to sudden darkness which I have been emotionally vulnerable to since my childhood.

In my experience, as the fear I faced in the dark is not physical but purely psychological. That means that it is really hard to overcome something that is out of the physical. I can relate it to the biblical doubting Thomas. He did not believe that Jesus Christ has risen from the dead until he has seen the risen Christ and put his fingers on the holes on the palm of Jesus.

That is the reason why I just allowed myself to be subject to that fearful feeling and so I became bound by a thousand fears when the lights went out.

Yes, for others, fear can be conquered, it can be eliminated, and it can be transcended. But for me, it cannot be and I will remain afraid of the dark until a miracle removed that fear in my being.

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