What is your worst fear?
What would be the worst thing that could happen to you?
The one thing you would want to avoid at all costs?
Ending up in hospital with coronavirus or cancer or some worse disease?
Having a cop put his knee on your neck for 8 minutes and 46 seconds?
Losing your legs after a car accident?
Disappointing the person who most believes in you?
Failing to turn your passion into a living?
Accidentally killing someone and having to live with the weight of your conscience for the rest of your life?
Seeing your child die before you?
Being cheated on by your lover or husband?
Losing your job and your house and ending up on the streets?
Being publicly humiliated?
Or maybe you are afraid of silence?
Of never meeting your true love?
Of never being with him?
Of being spurned for another?
Of not having kids?
Maybe you haven’t thought about it all that much.
Maybe life has been kind and encouraging with you so far.
Maybe you haven’t attended your own funeral yet.
Maybe you haven’t paused and breathed in and imagined yourself dead and thought about the things you have to do so death would be bearable, whenever it choose to come.
I don’t know what your worst fear is, but I can tell you mine.
My worst fear is not that I won’t write a great book.
Or that I will die alone.
Or that I will die before old age from cancer or some other disease.
Or that on my deathbed I will regret I will not have lived enough.
Or that for some I will always be a stranger, an outsider.
Or that I will upset the people I care about, which I have done many times and will probably do again without even wanting to.
My worst fear is to have to depend on others in any way: for my wellbeing, my physical care, my sustenance.
That through illness or accident or age I will become a helpless object of pity.
After a stroke, my grandfather became locked-in and was unable to care for himself.
Or even talk properly.
My grandmother and aunt and mother had to look after him.
He could still smile, but he was never happy when the time came for his diaper to be changed.
My other grandfather, my father’s father, died alone in his apartment.
We found him dead with the remote control on his chest, the TV on.
He had passed away one year after my grandmother died from cancer.
Given a choice, I would probably choose the short and subtle and lonely sort of death.
Because I’m not afraid of death or loneliness.
I wouldn’t mind being in a hospital if I was there by myself and I could perform all the procedures myself.
It’s not that I am afraid of people either.
Most people are kind and nice to be around with.
But I am afraid of depending on others.
It’s not an entirely reasonable fear, I know.
It’s easier to live alone and die alone than to do it surrounded by others.
I say easier, not necessarily better.
I have always been solitary by nature, and love has only helped me refine my solitude.
By myself, I feel I could bear anything.
By myself, standing in the light of sun or just lying still, breathing, is the supreme happiness.
But would I be able to bear the weight of life under other people’s eyes?
That’s my worst fear.
I don’t think much about it; I don’t have nightmares about it.
But it’s there, I carry it with me.
No man is an island, but a man can be a self-made fortress, can’t he?
Someone said to me once that I live in an ivory tower.
And that she had to fly all the way to me and parachute herself at the precise moment when I left the window open (to let in some fresh air) for her to fall through it and reach me.
And boy, she was right.
I didn’t make things any easier for her, let me tell you.
But the past is the past.
I have built walls around myself and around those walls there are other walls.
I venture out and I am nice to people, but I am cautious.
Because my greatest fear is to have to depend on others in any way, to be helpless under their eyes.
I have told you my worst fear.
Maybe now you will tell me yours?