• - Dr. Mohan Dewan

I have written about Fear in the Times of Pandemic before. These articles can be accessed here and here. This is the third part in the series.

Humans feel and suggest that fear and creativity are their exclusive domains. Humans suggest that no other entities can exhibit these emotions. I don't agree. All living and non-living entities exhibit fear. But yes, creativity and fear are both emotional responses. It has often been said that ‘necessity is the mother of all invention’. I beg to differ. Fear is its parent. Sometimes an abusive parent.

Another cliché is that fear elicits a fight or flight response. Yet another- Fear can generate complete paralysis, Absolute non doing! Total freeze! All systems internal and external stop functioning, or are made to stop functioning! This total stoppage of all bodily functions is a common response to fear. This response is caused by the self-doubts generated in the memory storage unit of the body component.

It has been suggested by the brain people that the emotional response to fear is generated in the Amygdala region of the human brain. I believe that the spirit has much to do with this also. Generations of humans have been conditioned to respond to triggers that evoke a response to fear. It takes immense courage to fight or fly away from fear. That is, to take some action. Fear was designed in primitive times to stop an entity from doing something dangerous. However, fear itself has evolved, so that it now attempts to prevent anything from being done effectively or creatively.

Fear is sometimes a simple response to Change! Every entity, living or non-living exhibits this response. If the entity overcomes change, particularly a life threatening change in the case of a living entity, we say that the living entity adapts. If it does not, we say it perishes. Sooner or later one member of a species learns to adapt and a new generation, that is less resistant to the change that had induced the fear, evolves. Such a response requires courage. To stand up to the general reaction of all around you. To sometimes even suggest quite the opposite. To stand by your convictions, even at the cost of ridicule, derision and even death. It takes courage to suggest that the world is a globe and not flat and that planet earth is not the center of the universe. That is the genesis of creativity.  Even today we still say that the sun rises in the East! We still resist change although we know we are not being scientific.

As entities in this universe, our sole function is to enable the spirit to evolve. To provide the spirit with our unique set of experiences, emotions, and feelings. Creativity is the way we satisfy our role as co-creators for this evolution.

The virus or microbe that mutates in response to an antibiotic  so that  it is resistant to it, is exhibiting the same kind of creativity in response to fear, as a scientist who invents a cocktail to "fight" HIV or discovers a yet unknown element, a painter who creates an exquisite portrait, a poet who pens a sonnet, the author who types out her epic, a plant that branches out so that at least a portion of some of its leaves are able to absorb sunlight, an earthworm that coils itself in the face of danger or a chameleon that changes the color of its skin to thwart its attacker. Each one of them have overcome the fear of their assumed worthlessness, their fear of rejection, their fear of ridicule to co–create with the spirit and thereby enable the spirit to evolve.

The law of physics suggests that every action has an equal and opposite reaction. The law of fear suggests that for every action there is an equal and opposite inaction until courage is able to overcome it.

Fear, in fact, preceded creativity. It is a natural and powerful primal emotion. Fear induces immediate biochemical changes in the body components and sends signals to the spirit, the "I", the mind, that the body perceives real or imaginary danger or threat to the body.

The first reaction to any change is fear. Any form of change sends fear signals to the mind.  Speaking of humans, in the beginning, humans were fearful of everything: the weather, the wild animals, the hostile environment, and each other. This vestigial fear persists even to this day.

Although the physical response to fear is biochemical: sweating particularly in the palms, increased pulse rate, and a rush of adrenaline, the emotional responses are very personal. Every entity responds to fear in its own way. Depending on the combination of the past, feelings, sensations, and experiences of the body component and the generations of fear embedded in the spirit. Generation after generation humans evolved so that with the help of creativity, they would be able to adapt themselves to each of the conditions that caused the fear. But the fear department persists as strong as ever. Every creative thought or proposed action is audited by self-doubt: am I worthy of action? In fact, to be fearful is to be human.

There are also some humans for whom fear is a pleasurable experience. Not so much fear itself but the adrenaline rush that it gives in the body component. Scary movies and roller coaster rides are designed to provide such rushes. But to most fear is an unwanted emotion along with its cousin...worry!

In the next part of this work, we will discuss ways to adapt to fear and opt for creativity.


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