The Hula Hoop Girl Twirls Again-3

This is the last in this particular series although I anticipate another shoot with this talented and attractive young lady in about 2 weeks.

As I was driving home about a week before this shoot I was passing a “Toys R Us” store and I noticed they had a bunch of discontinued toys out on the sidewalk and there were several cartons of hula hoops sitting there marked down. Apparently hoops have not been selling well of late in this area—a shame. To me, hula hoops are wonderful, frivolous fun—something we can almost never get enough of.

I guess fun in this area has fallen out of favor.

On an impulse I turned into the parking lot—I was thinking about getting hoops for my wife’s two youngest grandchildren in Pennsylvania.

I was poking around in the discontinued Sesame Street characters when I took note of a two-headed purple creature—I think his name is usually just, “Two-headed Monster”—though I ran across a reference to a skit in which the monster appears and there are 2 phones marked “Frank” & “Stein.”

When my son was about 5 or 6 he watched Sesame Street pretty regularly and was always afraid of the two-headed monster. He’d walk over and turn off the TV and ask to do something else—play catch maybe.

I never understood what it was that made The Two Headed Monster so scary. He talked in a combination of baby talk and gibberish and always seemed confused or just dumb—he was cuddly, vulnerable and harmless. I asked my son what it was that scared him but he couldn’t explain it. Obviously there was something in the character’s appearance or manner that tapped into some fundamental anxiety on my son’s part—logically (whatever that means) it didn’t make sense—to me. That tends to be the nature of much of what we fear—it’s much more of a comment on ourselves and who we are deep inside rather than the stimulus—in this case the puppet.

I think—broadly speaking—there are two kinds of fear—the real and the neurotic or irrational. Somebody sticking a loaded gun in your face is certainly real and fear is certainly justified but very few of us in this society are going to find a gun in our faces in the foreseeable future.

Feeling fear at the possibility of losing our job is pretty common—especially in an uncertain economy. But we’re not going into fight or flight mode for any physical reason—it’s really more of a fear of the unknown and a reaction to fantasies of being reduced to poverty—losing our material possessions, health/medical problems, alienation from loved ones or professional colleagues, being unable to provide for our dependant loved ones and with many men especially—the inability to provide and protect is equivalent to emasculation.

But suppose you lost your job and weren’t afraid—just concerned and disappointed.

Chances are things would go at least the same or more likely—much better—than if you freaked out, got depressed or did something you later regretted. The great majority of us will not lose our jobs and if we do we won’t do anything regrettable. And of those of us who are forced by life’s vagaries to become creative and adventuresome, very often end up better off or no worse when the dust settles.

But it has been my experience that the great majority of people will fiercely defend and hang on to their fears—grimly convinced they will tumble headlong into darkness, chaos and the most horrible of deaths—if they let their guard down for even a second. They never question the utility of their dark convictions. In effect they’re slaves to fear—and by extension—to irrationality. If you’re not clear on what I’m talking about you have only to look at some of the political and social anxieties that swirl about the media and popular culture in recent months. There’s plenty of irrationality on both sides of any issue you want to look at. But don’t point that out to people who are actively concerned about —whatever—unless you want a fight.  The ironic thing here is the individual on the “A” side of the issue is almost certainly just as scared and crazy as the guy on the “B” side.

I once had a client ask me how he could tell if he was making progress in therapy. I was quite surprised to hear myself say something that made unusually good sense. I said,

” You’re making progress when you overcome a fear.”

Pretty cool, huh?

My son is 23 now and doing well in college. I don’t think he’s afraid of the Two-Headed Monster any more so he’s made progress. For him it was just a matter of time passing, routine growth and eventually realizing while his fear was real (to him) the source of that fear was not in any way a threat.

Most people, I think, stop growing up sometime in their thirties if not much earlier—meaning they have a good solid set of fears in place that—in all likelihood—will serve them well for the next half century—unfortunately.

They will die thinking the Two Headed Monster is real and as they breathe their dying breaths will no doubt congratulate themselves on keeping up their vigilance until the end. I mean it must have worked—right—the monster never came around?

Most of us are not Zen monks—we will have to live with irrational fears—but that doesn’t mean we have to unquestioningly buy into all that grim nonsense. Learn meditation, embrace the loving aspects of your faith if you are a religious person—reject the fearful, hateful and angry in all aspects of life.

Then go out and buy yourself a hula hoop. I know a place where they’re on sale.

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