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On Fear


Steve Erickson

This morning he wakes up so fucking tired of being afraid. He’s tired of the knot in his gut that’s there when he goes to bed at night and still there in the morning. He’s tired of being afraid of his family vicissitudes, of being afraid for his kids & his wife & his 92-year-old Mom. He’s tired of being afraid of the very air he breathes, he’s tired of being afraid of tomorrow and of tomorrow’s tomorrow. He’s tired of being afraid of getting old, even as he’s already old -- he’s tired of being afraid of being alone. Does everyone feel this much a coward these days? More and more he blurts his fear in the static of his stutter -- he keeps trying to will the fear away. He’s tired of trying to will his way thru the fear and then when he gets to the other side of it, it’s still there after all. He’s tired of being afraid of the bad faith of “friends” who aren’t that friendly & enemies who have been waiting years to jump to the worst possible conclusion about him. He’s tired of being afraid of his failure, of being afraid that everything he’s done has come to nothing. Well, actually he’s gotten used to that fear, he used to be more afraid of his own personal oblivion before it became wrapped up in everybody else's. He's gotten used to the fear of having made no difference or impact, the fear of his disappearance from whatever small place on the mass consciousness he ever occupied. But these days he doesn’t really think as much about that in the face of the things that really matter, looming plague & economic upheaval & secret police & democracy's dismantlement, when all he can do is flee to his writing which is the only place he’s never been afraid even when he should have been. He’s afraid for the country where protesters against masks carry signs that read SELFISH AND PROUD. He’s afraid that the America of the moment, an American Reich where Baader-Meinhof patrols the culture, isn’t an aberrational one but the true one, and that it’s been the true one for a while. The precipice of everything is right there at everyone's feet like never before. There’s no getting over the fear, there’s only living with it like you live with a virus that the body accommodates but never defeats. He’s tired of being so afraid he can’t even choose between the first person & third, so he keeps vacillating between the two, selecting the third for however long it can protect me.

Steve Erickson is the author of ten novels and a Distinguished Professor at the University of California, Riverside. He also writes about media and the arts for Los Angeles magazine.

I’m So Tired (alternate version) ::: The Beatles

Sick & Tired ::: Johnny Jenkins

Tired ::: The Chambers Brothers

Fear (Is A Man’s Best Friend) ::: John Cale

I’m Tired ::: Swan Silvertones

Hymn To A Tired Man ::: Brandon Ross, Daisuke Suzuki, Stomu Takeishi

So Tired ::: The Bright Light Quartet

Captain I Am Getting Tired ::: Deep River of Song (Alabama)