Fear is a superpower

Coming across this line in Doctor Who, its sheer brilliance struck me dumb for a while. Rest assured, the irony hasn’t escaped my notice, both in the quote and in the reaction it caused. Fear has always been synonymous to weakness for us, and we humans flock like bees to confident and seemingly brave people, the proverbial hives. However, this unique take on fear makes a lot of sense once you think about it. 

By fear, I don’t mean the kind of fear that leads to cowardice. The fear that makes you too afraid to stand up for what is right is in no way condoned as something great, it is something that you have to work on overcoming. This fear is the fear of new things, the fear of the unknown, the fear of small things (like dogs, perhaps), the fear of moving to a new place, the fear of trusting a new person, the fear that is always mixed with a dash of excitement and nervousness and leads to you scaling new heights. 

Physiologically, it is fear rather than bravery that triggers our ‘fight or flight’ response which normally aids survival. Fear makes blood and oxygen pump to your brain like rocket fuel. It is fear that gives people the strength to do extraordinary things at times, it is fear that makes you run faster, fight harder and jump higher. It makes you so alert that time slows down. ‘Listen’ to your fear, for it will save you. I don’t seem to recall bravery having such a biological effect.

Psychologically, fear may be weakness, but it also a form of vulnerability. In this world where we build walls, or even forts around our true selves to avoid getting hurt, showing vulnerability or fear takes a different amount of bravery altogether. Allowing yourself to be exposed to the possibility of getting hurt by doing this is no less than a superpower in my opinion.

Easier said than done, as everything good always is, dropping the facade of bravery and courage to don fear out in public takes more courage than true courage does at times, and it is this ability that, perhaps when cultivated, will help us retain our humanity – something that we are in the process of losing at an alarming rate.

Everyone wants to be strong and untouchable, and in becoming so, they become so guarded that they forget how to let people in. They forget how to be vulnerable and consequently lose this superpower that they were granted. For a species that is so obsessed with the supernatural, we sure have a vehement disregard for most such ‘superpowers’ that we have been given. But, like I always say, humans are a pretty stupid race. Here’s to hoping that you will not ignore or try to suppress this superpower of yours the next time it makes an appearance and that you will use it wisely, because it is fear that keeps you alive.

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Do we ever really die?

Who are we? What makes us alive? What constitutes as consciousness? What is it that gives us life?

All questions to ponder upon, I know. If we consider the fact that we are all made of atoms, the same atoms that make perhaps the chair you’re sitting on or the mobile phone beside you, what is it that is so different, so special about the atoms that make us that gives us life?

I read this quote once, about how information is never truly lost and it got me to thinking, do we ever really die? The main idea of the quote was that information is never lost. If you write something on a paper and burn it, the information isn’t lost. The markings of ink on the paper are preserved in the way the flame flickers and the smoke curls. Wildly distorted to the point of chaos, the information which is seemingly destroyed is, in fact, retrievable.

This got me to thinking, do we ever really die too? I mean, we are just specific combinations of pre-existing atoms that just happened to come together in such a way that they created a consciousness by working together in synchrony. We, too, are just information. Information created by a specific set of atoms coming together and interacting with each other in a specific way, information that will disintegrate once the atoms can’t function together like they used to. But the atoms still remain the same atoms they were since they can’t be created nor destroyed, so are we dead?

I think the concept of death is merely a simple malfunctioning of a complex machine, the constituents of which then separate and get together later to form another similar, yet so very different, machine. So, in theory, you could be composed of a few atoms from Tutankhamen or Cleopatra, a caveman or a Roman warrior, Napoleon, Julius Caesar, Hitler, the Earth, water, wind or fire. You could be made up of atoms from someone who led an independence movement, a president, a celebrity, a ruler. You could have a few atoms from a warship or Shakespeare. The possibilities are endless. You are as old as the universe itself, but you are also a unique combination of atoms. A combination like you has never and will never exist. You are the sum of immortal parts.

You are all you have to prove that this particular combination works. But, it is knowing this that makes you realize the true meaning of the saying that the sum is greater than its parts. You are not the sum of the small pieces of the old combinations that you are made of, rather, you are a completely new combination that has been formed and is utterly unprecedented. There are no predictions to foretell what you might do; you could be a super villain or a successful protagonist, it is all up to you.

You have a choice. No one can tell you what to do because no one has ever seen you before. No one can predict your chances of success or failure, there are no statistics to predict what you can and will do. You are not a number on a list. No one can decide what to do with the unique combination that you have apart from you. So, choose well and make the most of your combination of atoms; because who knows when they’ll disintegrate to form an entirely new consciousness?