Photo and Commentary ©2020 by Robert Howson
Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Many young children may harbor an irrational collection of fears which creates for them a need of resolution. For some it may be that monster in the closet, but for me it was a small, uninhabited island off the coast of Mexico. Perhaps I had picked up a voluminous tome in the college library on the birds of Mexico where I read, or imagined I had read, about this island that was filled with almost limitless numbers of beautiful exotic birds. Unfortunately, it was also the home of venomous snakes of an arboreal nature which would drop from the branches above on any unsuspecting prey that happened along below. That may be the reason I never explored that mythical island.

My other fear involving snakes came from two 8mm home movies. Castle Films released a series on “Bring ‘Em Back Alive” where brave men would venture into places like darkest Africa to capture wild animals and then bring them back to zoos in the United States. For a period of time this seemed like an ideal profession for me. But another film showed a gargantuan boa constrictor engaged in mortal combat with a leopard. The muscular cat appeared to have the advantage at the outset, but the film ended with the snake’s vice-like coils wrapped around the dying feline. How could I be expected to go on these adventures with a creature like that out there? Fortunately, children are also creative, and I came up with a workable solution. I would design a coat of armor made out of lightweight steel. It had to be lightweight so I would be able to walk around in it, but to compensate for this, it would also have razorblades attached vertically to it so should a constrictor wrap his coils around me he would automatically be cut into pieces much like the chunked pineapple squares we got at the grocery store.

As we age, experience and rational thinking cause us to discard many of our childhood fears. For example, we had no fear of this Australian Green Tree Snake that hung from the overhanging branches of the tropical rainforest as we silently slipped beneath it, even though there are 100 poisonous snakes in that country. No fear, simply because the captain of our small boat assured us it was absolutely no threat to humans.

Instead, as adults we substitute our fears for more rational ones. While we may no longer be concerned about constrictors, we do seem to have a need to make sure our portfolio of stocks and bonds is ever-increasing. We make sure our premiums on every conceivable kind of insurance are up to date and our shopping carts at Costco are filled with amber-colored bottles containing vitamins to ensure there is no deficiency known to mankind we haven’t addressed.

It’s quite likely when all is said and done that many of our “solutions” will find their way into the same discard bucket where my razorblade-armor was placed. The only real solution has to be one that I learned back in childhood taken from Proverbs 3:5: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.” (NIV) So simple, so childish, so hard to do, but also so needed, because, remember, it’s a jungle out there.