The Short Story that Scarred My Life

At 24 years of age I am a very cynical person. I would even say that I’m extremely cynical.

Recently, I had a bit of free time and I was trying to place this cynicism; trying to figure out where it came from. After a good hour of reflection I realized that I was afraid. I realized that the cynicism has grown from fear.

But where did this fear come from?

Granted, I’m relatively young but I've had my [un]fair share of tragedy. Like most people who have dealt with things like an untimely death, I’m afraid of how (God forbid) I would deal with something like that if it happened again. And its more than a fear… it is dread. However, the prospect of grief is not what frightens me the most. What frightens me the most is the thought that what could happen is somehow a product of my selfishness or greed.

I’m afraid that because I want something great in my life, it could come at the expense of loved ones. That if I pray, or want, or wish for something bad enough, I might be dooming my family (like how most great artists are great because they suffered with unbearable tragedy throughout their life). -This mindset terrifies me.

From here, I was getting a little mad. I was wondering why I felt this way. And for some reason it just hit me. -You know how sometimes you suddenly realize something that you’ve always known about yourself and all you can say is, wow.

Well, I tried to recall where this fear-based thought process began. And like everything wrong with this country I came to realize that school had really messed me up. I’ve long forgotten (repressed?) most things that I’ve learned in elementary and middle school. But the one piece of literature that stuck in the back of my mind was a short story by W.W. Jacobs. –“The Monkey’s Paw”