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But, what is fear?

1 May, 2020

But, what is fear?

The pen on a blank sheet of paper. The representation of fear for writers, or so they say.

But, what is fear?

The obvious thing in the unary number system is that N is 1. At the beginning of my journey, N was days, then months, and now it is years. While the lockdown keeps us 9178km apart, today the first of May, our journey with Athena around the world turns 5 N’s of age.

Our relationship and connections with the world lose their essence in everything numeric, statistic or engaged with dates or anniversaries. We lose these as well as their effect on us. Numbers have no memory. They sometimes have no care for us. We don’t feel represented. They have none of the senses that we use to experience and relate to the world. I will not engage on an argument on whether there are more than 5 senses, this text is not an analysis of the human body.

When I barely landed in Spain, the plan was simple: do the things I like while I count the days like an inmate until I get back to La Paz, Bolivia, where Athena rests, and continue the journey.

So I’ve felt somewhat strange this past week. I was meant to stay in Europe for 40 solid days. Turns out we’ve been in a lockdown for just about as long. The first of May has arrived at breakneck speed and now I find myself like an inmate, with the walls full of groups of five lines.

A question that has come up during this time is if I am afraid. Reliving the journey, as I was thinking on what to write, I pondered. The vastness of the Australian desert, the Argentinian Patagonia, the Mongolian and Russian steppes. Being lost. Not being able to understand a language. The cold. The rain. The sun. Full moon nights and the howling wolves. The feeling that you were the only human being on the face of the earth. I wasn’t afraid. It made me alert and feel everything with great depth.

I then arrived at the conclusion that what I actually fear is our ability to adapt to any given situation because of fear. Speaking of fear I remember the breaking branches from crying monkeys running away from thunder and lightning in the jungle. Or the absence of silence in the same jungle at night. So then I think that fear produces different reactions and states of being. Cold sweat. Tachycardia. Anxiety. Feeling overwhelmed. Stress. Does the sense of touch changes, as well? Does the sense of smell?

Everyone speaks of changes after the virus. There were changes before. There will be later. We are ever-changing. We are evolution. We are involution. Right now we are frozen footage.

My glasses reflect the window behind me and while I think whether fear has a smell, my hair keeps growing.

To me, traveling is somewhat like that scene from “Good Will Hunting” where Robin Williams tells Matt Damon that he can read everything about Michelangelo. However, until you are in the Sistine Chapel, you can’t tell what it smells like. So I think about how the sense of smell can transport us anywhere in the world. Like the smell of wet earth takes me back to my childhood, back in the town where I grew up in Entre Rios.

So I think our memories would smell like however we wanted.

For some, maybe the Sistine Chapel smells like fear.


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