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I’ve been thinking about fear lately.

Not as it personally relates to me, although I have some things happening in my life that are causing me stress. Namely, the foundation people have to come to my house on a warranty issue for the front of the house – which looks like it’s trying to escape to Mexico. The rear half looks like it’s on its way to Austin and may need some more steel piers. Ah, the joys of home ownership. (As I see dollar bills flying out the window.)

The other issue is this odd spot that just appeared on my face. Care to guess how many times I looked up skin cancer pictures? I think it’s an age spot, even though I’m but a dewy blossom in the Garden of Life, but I’m trotting over to the dermatologist this week to make sure.

Put both of those things under Stuff That Happens in Life.

No, I’ve been thinking about fear in terms of Stanley. He hates anything to change in our routine. He gets aggressive when something new, be it an object or a person, appears. He shows a definite fight or flight response to unfamiliar situations.

Stanley is a dog, but he reminds me of three people I occasionally watch on YouTube. Unfortunately, all of them are morbidly obese yet they haven’t lost weight in order to cure their health issues. In Stanley’s case all he can do is bark at the offending threat. These three YouTubers all offer up excuses or what they consider as rational justifications for not doing the best for themselves.

I think it’s because they’re afraid. Food – and being, well, fat – is something that’s grown familiar. I think, in a lot of cases, that fat might also be a blanket that we wrap around ourselves, a shield from the outside world. Even though it harms our health, even though it may shorten our lives, it’s still something oddly comforting.

It is scary to do something new. You might fall flat on your face. You worry that people will criticize or ridicule you. Trust me, and you really have to take my word on this, people will criticize you no matter what you do. You might as well be yourself. The side effect? People realize that what they see is what they get.

And, in time, you realize that fear is just a paper tiger, one that you’ve made a great deal scarier than it really is.

Now, if I could only convince Stanley of that.