What Fear Can Teach Us - Karen Thompson Summary

Mar 18, 2014 -

See Fear as a Story - Learn What Fear Can Teach Us

Karen Thompson Walker is a fiction writer who wrote the New York Times Bestseller book entitled The Age of Miracles. The book is about a girl and her life after the earth's rotation suddenly begins to slow down, which results in longer days and nights, change in gravity, and shifts in the environment. All the while, Julia is also dealing with everyday life's challenges.

Fear is often seen as a form of weakness. As adults we are often told not to worry and not to panic. In fact studies have shown that humans are hardwired to be optimists. Hope for the future keeps our minds at ease, reduces stress, and promotes physical health. Society and nature have conditioned us into looking at fear as something we need to overcome.

However, Karen Walker suggests that we should look at fear as an "amazing act of the imagination". As a child before you went to bed did you ever wonder if there were monsters hiding in your closet or underneath your bed? When we see young children express their fears, we deem them as having an vivid imaginations.

As we grow older, we leave these visions behind and "grow up". But these intense worries are exactly what sparked and fueled the works of Darwin, the Bront√ęs, and Proust. What can we learn about fear from these visionaries and young children? Fears are really an unintentional way of storytelling. Fears have characters just like stories do. In our fears, the characters are ourselves. Like stories, fears have plots. There is a beginning, middle and an end. You board a plane, the plane takes off, and then the engine fails. Fears can also be every bit vivid as imagery found in a novel. Fears also have suspense.

"As a writer I can tell you a big part of writing fiction is learning to predict how one event will affect all the other events. Fear works in that same way. In fear, just like in fiction one thing always leads to another." - Karen Walker

If you think of fear as more than just fears, but as stories, we should think of ourselves as the author of those stories. We should also think of ourselves as the reader of those fears. How we choose to read our fears will affect our lives. Successful entrepreneurs share a habit called productive paranoia, which means instead of dismissing fears these people read them closely and translated the fear into preparation and action. So they were prepared when their fears came true. However, they don't always come true.

How can you tell fears worth listening to an all the others?

The best reader has a combination of two different temperaments - the artistic and the scientific. A good reader has an artists' passion; willingness to get caught up in the story. Also, coolness of judgment of a scientist, which acts to temper and complicate the intuitive reactions of the reader.

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