The Matter of Fear By Arjun Juneja Fear is treacherous. It leaves you cold and clammy in the middle of nowhere. Homeless, it vests in our hearts and carves out a spot for itself. It cannot be denied as we embrace it with open arms and trembling hands. Our predilection for fear drives a wedge between us and people, us and life. At its innocent best, fear is encouraged and sought after. Thought of as a motivator, its lack of recognition is attributed to ignorance. Refusal to acknowledge its existence is branded as denial. In hindsight, denial may be preferred to its acceptance. Like an ill-gotten good, we seek to consume it rapidly and in silence. Nobody wants to highlight the presence of fear in their lives. We seek its disposal in silence. But with such a shameful act comes the inexplicable knowledge of fear. Good riddance embeds it further in our memories and activity logs. There is no escape from its knowledge and each day only pushes it into the spotlight. Our fear thrives on recognition of it as an unknown. We don’t fear what we can see. We fear what we fail to understand, and there we falter as human beings. A lack of understanding overtakes our senses and our inability to comprehend keeps us miserable. Logic is not worn as a red badge of courage and is left at home. It has no place in the battlefield or in pubs filled to the brim with distraught men vying for draughts of valor. Thrust aside in uncertainty, we pray for instinct at the forefront and that further spawns fear. Instinct is often unduly praised and its detractors are few and far. With the precocious trait emerges the intransigence of fear. We throw caution to the wind when fear sets in. In efforts to be untainted by the onset of the phenom, we misinterpret opportunities. We push ourselves closer to the desk and lean in to write faster at a ferocious pace. Much like an author with a deadline. In garnering accolades and achievements in a reckless manner, we forget our roots. Unhindered by the vagaries of fate, we widen the corridor of uncertainty in our lives, professional and otherwise. The unknown has a quality that eludes academics and mathematicians alike. Its form is hard to define as it leaves in its wake a tale of intrigue. And such is fear. Sublime in its innocence, it assumes vividly detailed forms as we let it overshadow our thought process. We incite the weeds so planted and let them give root to further doubts. Burdening ourselves with monsters hidden under our beds, we bring to the fore our inabilities. Our resolve crumbles under self-devised inadequacies. We let them assume gigantic proportions and envelop us in a prison of our making. Fear matters because of us. If allowed, it would not exist. For better or worse, nothing happens without choice. Not even fear.