Living in Fear

I was nearly run down this afternoon by a big tan mini van. As a cyclist this was not the first time such an event has occured. It hasn't happened that much considering how many times I've ridden through an intersection straight and motor vehicles have intended to make right turns. But it's one of the more common hazards that exist for two wheeled travellers. Many cars drivers (at least those who don't cycle regularly) seem to think that they have the right of way over cyclists. This simply is not true. Bicycles have all the same rights as other moving vehicles. Those going straight have the right of way over those who are turning. As I braked and swerved to avoid the collision, my front wheel was literally inches from the massive metal box. I shouted my expletives. I sensed all eyes on me. Like a movie, they were breathless as to what the next few seconds would bring. Experience won out and I very, very narrowly avoided riding right into the 2 ton mass of metal. Not being a huge fan of life, my reaction suprised me. Human DNA seems to be encoded with an impossible to overcome instinct. I don't think it's simply a survial mechanism though. Not in the strictest sense. I think it's probably evolutionary and ultimately resulted in our survival all this time. But its foundation lies in fear. At its most basic, a fear of pain. It's reflected in numerous aspects of our lives. Love being the most obvious to me. Fear of being alone. Loneliness is painful. Love exists because we fear pain. Our offspring exist because we fear being unloved. Being unloved is painful. Life exists because we fear dying. Dying hurts. I didn't collide with that rogue mini van, not because I cherish life, but because I fear pain. These impulses happen on a primitive level. Deeply embedded in the complex helixes of our genetic structure. If you stop and imagine that the whole of human evolution is based on the very simple concept of pain avoidance, you really begin to get a sense of how uncomplicated we actually are. We eat to quell the pain of hunger. We fuck to subdue the ache of desire. We talk because the silence chokes us. Those among us who have evolved beyond the fear of pain are gone. Have taken their own lives. And are to be admired. Envied. Respected.

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