As a matter of fact, in my own case, the reaction against fear was from the beginning more or less instinctive. With the first exercise of the reasoning faculty, I tried to argue against the emotion. I remember that as a little boy I was afraid of a certain dog that barked at me when I went to a certain house to which I was sent perhaps two or three times a week. The house had a driveway, and from the minute of passing the entrance, my knees trembled under me. But even then, I recall, it seemed to me that this terror was an incongruous thing in life, that it had no rightful place there, and that, if the world was what my elders told me it was, there must be in it a law of peace and harmony which as yet I hadn’t arrived at. I cannot say that when the dog barked this reasoning did more than nerve me to drag my quaking limbs up to the doorstep, whence my enemy, a Skye terrier, invariably took flight.
During a somewhat stormy childhood and boyhood, in which there was a good deal of emotional stress, I never got beyond this point. Specific troubles were not few, and by the time I reached early manhood, a habit of looking for them had been established. “What’s it going to be now?” became a formula of anticipation before every new event. New events presented themselves most frequently as menaces. Hopes rarely loomed up without accompanying probabilities of disappointment. One adopted the plan of “expecting disappointment” as a means of cheating the “jinx.” I am not painting my early life as any darker than most lives. It was, I fancy, as bright as the average life of youth.
PHOTO CREDIT : ROBIN JONATHAN
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