Friday, October 15, 2010

Reflections on Fear

Today my primary care doctor told me that the best thing I could do for my atrial fibrillation was to avoid fearful situations. Now just how does one do that?
Fear is something we face uniquely, of course, based on our life experiences, and to some extent, I believe, our genes. When television brought the one by one rescue of the 33 copper miners in Chile to our living rooms this week, I was clutching at the arms of my recliner, like so many others.
When Lee and I were young, visiting friends in Bisbee, Az., they took us hiking deep into the "lavender pit" an abandoned copper mine there. Well, to me it seemed deep, but it was probably no more than ten or twelve feet. When I expressed fear of the walls falling in they laughed and said that the greatest fear would be rattlesnakes, who might have crawled in to escape the summer heat. I still have a huge crystalline rock in my garden that we hauled from there, though the intense green color has faded, like my hair, to dull grey.
My particular interest in Chile hails from my connection with my former pilates teacher, and surrogate granddaughter, Alejondra, who is now living back in her native land, having arrived in Santiago with her husband the night before the earthquake. The tales Alejondra has told me about the Atacama desert, the site of this week's mine rescue, are so spine chilling that I will never forget them. This is the largest and driest desert in the world, for one thing. It is in the desolate and remote north. There are places where it has not rained for 400 years.
Following the bloody coup de'etat in '73, in which Pinochet became the dictator until 1990, some 80 thousand Allende sympathizers or military personnel were cruelly interned. According to Alejondra their wives and daughters would often "disappear" in the night. It is now known, but not widely publicized, that they would be driven to the Atacama desert, raped, and abandoned to die of thirst. A shovel dug into almost any sand dune there will reveal the parched white bones of these poor victims.
Just how the 33 survivors of the copper mine cave-in faced their fears and survived, is indeed a story that needs to be told.

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