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A New Beginning - August 8, 2008

Posted Aug 12 2008 4:21pm

(Pink Crape Myrtle, City Lake)

I’m writing this a full two weeks before it will be published because I will be out of town when it’s time for this to post. By the time you’re reading this, I will have celebrated my sixth wedding anniversary and have completed my cruise with my husband and my best friend Rita and her husband to Cozumel, MX. I think we had a glorious time!

I’ve never been to Mexico. Except for a short cruise to the Bahamas and back several years ago, I’ve never been outside of the United States. I have this phobia of going out of the country, but only to certain places. I think the thing that frightens me most is that something would happen so that I can’t ever come back. The United States is not the most perfect place on earth, I’m sure, but it’s my home, and I don’t want to have to live somewhere else, especially against my will! So, I’ve never thought much about going abroad except to a few places. Mexico is one of the “good” places I would risk going to. Not that I’d want to live there forever either, but I figure with the cruise ship as my base, the worst that could happen is a pirate ship would attack us and take us for ransome. Just kidding! I would also be willing to risk going to England, Ireland, Scotland, or any of the Alpine or Scandinavian countries, Spain, Italy, Germany, France, and maybe Greece or Australia. I would never go to most Eastern European countries or the Middle East or Africa or Asia or most of South America and even Central America. I would go to Canada, but I don’t really consider that a foreign country. I’ve been trying to decide what makes me fear some places and not others. I thought at first it might be a racial thing, and I don’t like to think I’m racist at all, but I probably am a little. But that is not what I’m afraid of, not the color of someone’s skin. It has more to do with images of military coups involving guns and big knives, or wild, untamed geography with ferocious wild animals that might eat me, or uncontolled diseases, or cuisine consisting of body parts that I don’t normally eat or insects of any kind. In other words, I don’t want to go somewhere too exotic. All of that scares me to the point that even as I type these words, I’mfeeling a tightness in my chest, and I’m slightly hyperventilating.

This is definitely a phobia because I know that people go to exotic places all the time and come back to tell of the great times they had there. Just last night, at my writer’s meeting, a friend talked about her trip to Sri Lanka, and I was thinking the whole time, Sri Lanka? No way, Jose! Another guest at our meeting was back in the United States on vacation, away from where she currently lives and teaches in Budapest. Even that sounds too exotic to me. I have visions of old movies with seedy looking caravans of people who would just as soon cut my throat as look at me. Yet, she spoke of eating at McDonalds and TGI Fridays there. A phobia is a fear of something that cannot hurt you, yet you fear it anyway. Yes, this is a real phobia I have.

Another phobia I have is of frogs. I know that most frogs can’t hurt me, although I have seen a picture of some huge, monstrous frog with a human hand hanging out of his mouth that really pictures what I feel about frogs in general. But what I most fear about frogs is that they jump and scare me. If I see a frog that is a good enough distance from me that I can move around it and keep my eye on its whereabouts at all times, I’m only mildly panicked. But let a frog jump, and I’m going to scream and scare everyone else half to death. The other night, I came home from teaching a night class, and there was a little frog sitting on my porch steps, catching bugs as they made their way to my porch light. He was very small. He could not hurt me. I was fine standing in the driveway watching him eat the bugs. But I wanted to go inside, and I could not bring myself to walk up the steps. I knew that if I got that close to him, I would startle him, and he would jump. I would have probably had a heart attack or at least have fallen on the steps and broken something. I had to use my cell phone to call my husband to come outside and make the frog go away, so I could come inside. Foolish, yes. But I had to get inside and I saw no other way.

Fear is a helpful emotion. God gave it to us to protect us. Phobias can be harmful to us if we let them stand in the way of our normal, healthy lives. I guess I’m just glad I don’t have a job as a journalist that might require me to travel to exotic places. As for frogs, I take them one at a time as they come into my life.


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