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Ghosts and other fears

February 17, 2011

Jim, my son, is 13 years old.  He’s in 8th grade and gets up at 6 a.m. every morning to catch the 6:45 school bus.  He usually plays on the computer for a few minutes after he gets ready for school.  I wake up between 6 and 6:30 and lie in bed until about 6:40, when I get up and make sure Jim’s off ok.  So the other morning I’m in bed, almost counting Z’s, when I hear Jim come running up the stairs as fast as he can.  He dashes into my room, flips on the light and in a very scared voice says: “Dad! I heard it again!”

“Heard what?”

“That noise; that voice I told you about the other day!  It was right behind me!”

“What did it say?”

“It called my name!  It said my name!”

I held him and said: “Jim, there are no such thing as ghosts.  It was the wind, making a noise in the chimney.”  I comforted him and got him off to school.  Later that day, when he got home from school, I decided to talk with him about the episode and called him over to me.  “Let’s talk about ghosts Jim.  They simply don’t exist.  It’s impossible.”

“Dad, I heard something behind me!”

“Ok, after you heard it, what did you do?”

“Ran upstairs!”

I paused. “Jim, through out your life, you will encounter things you fear.  These will come in a variety of different forms:  A letter from the IRS.  Your boss calling you in his office to ream you for screwing up.   A noise in the dark.  A classmate that wants to fight.  Whatever.  It doesn’t matter what it is that scares you.  It matters how you handle the fear.  When an event scares you, turn and face the fear head on.  Face it and defeat it.  Spit in its face.  Kick it in the balls.  Challenge the ghost to come and get you.  If you turned and faced the ghost, and saw one, you would be the luckiest man in the world.”

“Why would it be lucky to see a ghost?!”

“Because you would be the first to see one.  Because they don’t exist.  If you see a ghost, communicate with it.  Ask it what’s it like to be dead.  Everyone wants to know the answer to that question.  Get the answer; tell the world.  You’ll become rich and famous.”

“Ok.  But dad…”


“What scares you?”

“Failure.  My ghost is failure.”


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