Thoughts from the Tao-te Ching

It was quoted in the “Thoughts from the Tao-te Ching” by Lao-Tzu, a notable writer who speaks much upon power and domination that, “there is no greater illusion than fear,/ no greater wrong than preparing to defend yourself,/ no greater misfortune than having an enemy” (26). This is an ingenious concept, yet we all face fear everyday, for many of us, it affects our way of life and the way we think and do things. What is fear triggered by anyways? Is it the lack of trust in others, or the natural tendency to be afraid of that which we do not know? Whatever the explanation, I know why I have fear.

Back in the small, mountainous desert of Sparks, Nevada, during the coldest winter to pass us by; many of my friends and I went out to hit the town. The wind howled as it rushed through the neighborhood, causing the trees to sway to and fro. Now we were all children of a young age, thirteen to be exact, but we decided that we were responsible enough to face the world beyond the next street. Upon reaching our decision, we contemplated on where we should meet. It had to be somewhere that we could all covertly escape without alarming any of our families or neighbors.

Oddly enough, everyone met at my house, one by one, we all piled in to the living room and thankfully my mom was sound asleep in the back room. As soon as everyone arrived, we made our move, deceitfully making our way through the kitchen, which was so eloquently decorated with metal sculptures of roosters and chickens, we continued on to the door. As we turned the doorknob, we could heard the most horrifying sound from the door, an old and rusted hinge that creaked and wailed loud enough to bring attention to you from a mile away.

Scared that we were going to get caught by my parents, we decided to hit the back burners and go. It seemed as if we outran the wind at that moment, it was glorifying, to separate yourself from your parents and be with your friends. As the rain began to come down in an awkward fashion, as if it were coming straight at us, almost as if it wasn’t falling, just coming straight at us like the wind in our face. This winter was a gloomy one, the grey clouds bombarded us from above, even the sun did not dare to peak out through the poor conditions.

Despite the weather, we accomplished our first task to get away and now it was nothing but an open road that had endless possibilities. We first made our way to Smith’s grocery store, where its letters were constantly illuminated in a magnificent wave of red. We bought ourselves an immense amount of sweets, mostly red licorice and chocolate, which we had devoured within the next half hour resulting in a not so pleasant feeling. We came to our senses and realized that we should eat some real food, so we slowly made our way through the icy parking lot to A&W’s, America’s Restaurant.

They had a fluorescent yellow jukebox, which we decided to sing with, being fully aware that other people were present, we went along and embarrassed ourselves beyond all belief, not because we were singing, but because we didn’t know the words of the songs we were singing. The manager wasn’t at all pleased with our actions and had us “politely” removed us from the restaurant. With a full day in front of us, we decided to make our way to the arcade, usually a hang out for the older kids, but today was our day, a day of freedom and victory.

When we arrived, we saw it, the game that we all loved to play, Pac-Man, quarter after quarter, we were determined to obtain the high score. We threw the rest of our money into that machine which enabled us to play for hours on end and eventually allowed us to be known as the people who imputed the three initials of _ _ _, being extremely ignorant of our situation, after taking over one of the high scores, Alex hit the wrong button to enter blank initials. Our proof was gone, but in our hearts, Pac-Man high score number seven will always belong to us.

We were on top of the world that day, nothing could bring us down, except for the fact that it was beginning to get darker outside and that we should probably be heading home. It was only for our mom’s sake, not because we wanted to. We consolidated our belongings and shuffled out the door. Despite the rain and snow, we had fun, strolling down the streets, being loud and having fun in nothing but our soaking wet pants and t-shirts. For this one point in time we had everything we ever wanted, being away from our parents, getting all the candy we could possibly imagine and play video games without anybody to ever tell us to stop.

The happiness all ended and it was at that very moment that fear struck our souls. We were but one block from my house when a car recklessly barricaded down the street, spinning out control from the slick road, it came hurtling down our way. Three of us immediately noticed the rampaging Honda Civic and ran out of its way, but it was too late, Alex didn’t get his footing and did not make it out, he was hit. He lied there in pain and agony while my friends and I froze in the fear that circulated our bodies.

The very thought of losing a friend at a moments notice or having the knowledge that it could have been any one of us put us into shock. The frantic driver quickly exited the car and huddled over Alex to make sure he was alright; he then called us over and gave us a direct command in a scared and startled voice, “Go get some help, please just go”, these words rang in my ears and I will always be remember them. We ran with all our might knowing that we were facing a terrible situation. I flew through the door and told my mother, she immediately called an ambulance, and shortly thereafter it had had arrived.

We followed the ambulance to the hospital where we waited, terrified and frightened. Endless hours went by until the doctor finally came forward, the words he spoke were relieving, despite Alex suffering many broken bones and a mild concussion, he was okay. It was that day that we bonded more than ever, the fear made us all realize how important we each are and what fear truly was. Fear can be thought of as knowing that one day, even by a slight accident, one of your loved ones could be gone.

We found out that anything could happen at a moments notice; we learned that day that we constantly need to be prepared and aware of our surroundings. Fear is not always a weakness, but a strength, a feeling that we encounter that allows us to be cautious. Our fear for the life of one of our buddies was one of the biggest contributing factors that made us four of the best friends ever. “Whoever can see through all fear will always be safe” (Lao-Tzu 26), I argue that whoever can face their known fears and prepare to take on the world in front of them are the true people who will always be safe.