What do you think of when you imagine a man afraid? Do you think of someone mounting a horse in 1890 and traveling from one side of a nation to the other? Traversing three-thousand miles of wild landscape? Do you picture someone trying to survive one day at a time, never knowing what’s to come? Someone sleeping alone on the plains? Curled up against a rock with a fire at his feet, his one blanket pulled tight, with a fresh snow falling all around.
Remember, this is a man that’s afraid. Do you see it? What he fears?
Born in Germany he’d left when he was a teen. Once old enough to work he saved for a ticket, boarded a steamer, and set off across the Atlantic. Does that strike you as the action of a coward? The thing a man would be driven to do out of fear? Once in New York he worked another job, doing the same thing he’d done back home. After half a year of shoe repair he had to move on, too scared to remain. Had to travel another expanse, leave the city, head west.
Are you wondering what he’s afraid of? It isn’t something chasing him. It isn’t cities, or towns, or people. He’s fine with all that. He’s never been in a gunfight, but the proposition of one doesn’t bother him in the least.
Alright, you want to know? Hm? What is it he fears? What drives him on? What makes him look for a way to escape the nightmare hiding in every passing moment?
He fears the mundane. He fears the simple. He fears repetition. He runs because to stand still is to accept the present. He travels because this, right here, calling this home, is—to him—to accept a quiet death. A slow demise.
What’ll he do when he reaches the Pacific? Cross that? Then what? How long until he’s back where he started? What is there to do when you’re afraid of here, now, this…of yourself? How do you face the face you wear?
To fear what is, what always will be, is to be continually terrified. And, as it’s been said: a life lived in fear isn’t worth living at all.