Wasn't it FDR who said, "The only thing we have to fear is fear itself"? He was right. As scary as the world may seem, it isn't. Everything is explainable. That's the beauty of science, the dogged determination to get to the bottom of things.
And yet we're startled at every turn. Shadows in the night. A creak of the floor. We watch ghost stories on TV where technology-clad investigators jump at their own heartbeat. I'd like to tap them on the shoulder, every last one of them, and whisper into the ears, "It's just you," but they'd die of fright.
For myself, though I profess fear of nothing, I'll make a little startled jump every now and then when something seems a bit out of place. When I stopped at the Germantown Public Library yesterday at 11 a.m. (this is an important piece of information) I was carrying some books and magazines to be returned. That's when I saw a rather large black spider at my feet.
This is what I saw:
Of course I realized in a flash that I was looking at a shadow, not at the thing itself. But shadows, as we all know, can be scary.
Plastered on their south-facing windows were spiders - lots of them - but it was their shadows, their mere suggestions, that offered the real excitement. So I returned today, at 11 a..m. precisely so that I would find that sun shining in those windows at the same angle and present the spectacle to me anew. Another sunny days. Another web of spiders spinning across the floor.
I watched as two young children came up the steps from their morning story time and revel in the spiders. They found each absolutely fascinating. The world is a wonder-full place for children. The told each spider "goodbye" as they left.
And so a Halloween display commanded their attention ... and mine, too.
There's nothing to be afraid of. Not a thing.