Friday the 13th

I remember I had seen some cartoon, or maybe a Disney Channel movie, as a child that introduced me to the concept of Friday the 13th. No significance in the Indian context whatsoever. But it seemed fascinating to me. Same as Halloween, in my eyes, this was a day of the dead. Bad things might happen. No reason, absolutely no reason for me to be thinking this way, except social conditioning through cartoon channels!

As an adult, I got to know about the movie series by the same name. Still no logical explanation for me to view it as a bad omen. And somehow, even now—as a nearly 30 year old woman—I still get mild jitters every time the poor 13th day of the month happens to fall on a Friday. The only “dead” here is the death of logic!

But this year, it seems even more pointless. Why would anyone in their right mind fear Friday the 13th while the god-forsaken pandemic continues to thrive in its second consecutive year?! I mean, ever since March 2020, we have seen so much happen in and around our lives that a mere date on the calendar holds no threat to prosperity.

And yet, the date pops out to me. It is almost 11pm as I sit down to write this, and the day has been fairly normal. Because of course it has been. There wasn’t going to be any catastrophic event to throw me off today.

Still, my mind wanders.

Fear can be such a primal emotion. It can take you down the memory lane to places you would rather not revisit. A haunted house full of my own personal demons, if you will. In fact, that is exactly how it is. Pain, past trauma, and old wounds are akin to the horrors placed within a haunted house. You know it cannot actually harm you. You know it is just there for show. You know that the fear is temporary; the minute you exit the house and leave the carnival, you forget all about your fear. What is left behind is a funny memory of the time you screamed your lungs out when a jump scare caught you off guard!

And so it is with pain!

What we are left with is the experience that helped us grow, gain a wider perspective, and take a deeper look into the internal workings of our minds. Sure, it was no fun back then. And it will be no fun revisiting a memory that holds nothing new to offer. But our experiences shape us into the people we are, the people we will be. What’s that saying? We learn from our mistakes and we grow from it.

That’s a silver lining. And I live for silver linings!

Sometimes the storms are too dark, the clouds too heavy, and the thunder too loud. But, as with everything else in life, things eventually settle down. And the sun comes out. Or maybe a faint rainbow makes its presence known. And when the moon comes out that night, oh the magnificent glory with which it shines! Sometimes the storm is worth it just for that sight!

I believe that fear and pain are intrinsically linked. Once we have been down in the depths of despair, and somehow managed to emerge out of it stronger, we might feel afraid to go down that road again. Because now we know how it feels. Not exactly a picnic spot, is it?

Or maybe once we’ve been down that road already, we no longer fear whatever life throws our way. Because now, there’s literal evidence that we can withstand the adversity and tackle it with grace. And by grace, I mean a messy, haphazard personal uphill battle that mostly no one sees us fight. People will ask you, or better yet, tell you in admiration that they are surprised by how well you seem to handle yourself. And you just smile to yourself, knowing what it took out of you to slay the demons no one else can even see. And you know, deep in your heart, that push comes to shove, you have the strength to do it all over again.

But you don’t want to.

So you take your time to build trust. Because—and here it is again—you fear that you will get hurt again. Just because you can endure something, it doesn’t mean that you want to. With experience comes some semblance of wisdom. And so, you try not to throw caution to the wind. Rather, you are cautious in every move.

Or not.

Maybe life throws a curveball and something clicks and you decide to give it a shot. One more time. Because only one emotion can supersede both fear and pain. And that’s hope! And as they say—or rather, as I say—hope never dies!

– J

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