My younger sister and I shared a bedroom in our childhood home. A door in the corner of our room opened to reveal a wooden pole for hanging clothes and, to the left, a flight of stairs leading up to the attic. Sometimes as I tried to fall asleep at night, that door would rattle and startle me. Influenced by watching Abbott & Costello movies where they met the Mummy, the Invisible Man and others, I imagined all sorts of spooky things living up in the attic, hiding in the shadows just waiting to jump out and grab me. Any time I needed to open that door to get something, I made it quick.

One day my curiosity finally got the better of me, and I cautiously crept up the stairs and scrutinized the attic space. Daylight streaming in through the front window helped the overhead light bulbs illuminate the darkness in the eaves. Hesitantly, I walked on the old, well-worn rug covering the creaky floorboards over to a large chest to find it filled with off-season clothes. I peered around a few miscellaneous pieces of furniture. Nothing lying in wait for me there, so I pressed on to inspect piles of dusty old books. I opened a large brown wardrobe to discover only winter coats and boots. I tiptoed around the center chimney to find boxes of Christmas decorations, extra dishes and household items.

I moved to the back window and gazed out. From my high vantage point, I had a great view into a neighborhood beyond ours. I felt a slight breeze and noticed the curtains stir. I had found the source of the scary rattle. Just a draft of air on a windy night finding its way down the stairs to bump up against that loose-fitting door. Huh, I thought, kind of a letdown after what I had conjured up in my own mind.

I’m paraphrasing here, but I remember Stephen King once saying that he couldn’t write anything scarier than what terrifies each one of us the most. Some of us are afraid of flying, afraid of heights, afraid of spiders; the list of phobias is extensive. I don’t have any phobia that I’m aware of, but throughout my life there have been times when I have felt afraid. Mostly afraid of how a situation I’ve found myself facing will turn out. As FDR stated, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” It is not easy to think logically instead of emotionally right in the midst of a crisis situation and accept the simple truth of that statement. But I do remember I was once afraid of ghosts in the attic until the day I faced my fear, and with the help of enough light shining into the darkness, those ghosts disappeared.

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