Monday, July 13, 2009

The Gift of Fear: Really?

'CoverCover of The Gift of Fear

Someone recommended that I read The Gift of Fear, so I got it from the library.

First of all, it reminds me of the times that I was scared. That's crappy. I don't want to remember the times that I was scared. I know, I know, you learn from the situations, blah, blah, blah. I just don't wanna.

The main topic of the book is trusting your instincts. If you feel like something is wrong, trust yourself and leave the situation, or whatever you need to do. One thing he brings up are stereotypes. He says it is okay to feel like you are stereotyping, sometimes there is a good reason.

I hate stereotypes. I actually get annoyed at people who fit stereotypes. Like that boy in high school that everyone said was gay, but he insisted he wasn't. Then you find out a year later that he is. That bums me out. I wish those high school jerks were wrong. Which brings me to my story.

I was at the train station and there was a large group of loud teenagers waiting for the train. It is the 7:30am train, so it is usually very quiet and I sleep. I was not going to get on the same car as these kids. I got on a different car, then went to the very end and somehow they still ended up sitting next to me. The two that sat next to me were African-American boys.

I get a monthly pass for the train. I put it up on the seat in front of me, so that the conductor can see it. When these boys sat down, my first thought was "I've got to grab that pass back before they steal it." My second thought was "Don't be an idiot. Don't stereotype these boys. Leave the damn pass." Two minutes later, the boy next to me takes the pass.


Still I am trying to think "Maybe he just wants to see it." He looks at it. He shows his boy. Then he tries to hide it. So, I elbow him and ask for it back. He says "Oh, it's yours?" Of fucking course. Damn kids. Way to fit the stereotype.

So, perhaps the author is right. Trust your instincts, even when it seems silly.
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  1. Stereotypes are a real time saver! :)

    Seriously though, I don't trust anyone, anywhere these days. Not out of any kind of fear, but just that it saves me a lot of frustration when I can't even get common courtesy from people. I'm sure it's pretty similar in most big cities. I've found that having low expectations of people turns out to make my day when I see someone be nice.

    So to the book. The whole idea of living any part of your life in response to your fears really bothers me. It's so Oprah and FoxNews. Fear sells as well as sex sells. If you like that topic in a less "it could happen to you" way, and more of a social history of how we got to this urban and environmental mess, then I would recommend a book called "Ecology of Fear" by Mike Davis. You get to laugh at people in LA and their totally irrational fears.

  2. I have decided that that is the reason that I am a pessimist, if I expect the worst, then it spares me disappointment.

    The book isnt really about living in fear, but listening to your fears. And now that I type that, I dont really see the difference... That other book sounds swell, its going on my book list right now!

  3. I don't think being a pessimist is such a bad thing as long as you're a critical pessimist. Also, expecting the worst doesn't mean that you can't still be nice to people. You just don't have to expect whether they will be nice back to you or not.

    That book is funny, but I should warn you that some parts are worth skimming when it gets too overblown/statistical/academic.


Whatcha think?