I have a friend who is very afraid of heights. He gets nervous, then panicked, then actually shuts down in the face of any kind of perceived open exposure to unprotected high places.
I don’t share his fear at all. I am known as the photojournalist who will climb on, or fly in, anything without any hesitation, to get a picture, or, sometimes, just to be doing it.
This isn’t fair, because neither my friend nor I are in any real danger. The fear for him is instinctive, and irrational.
But consider this: spiders freak me out. I feel a very visceral, very instinctive, revulsion to them, and I always have. I am especially freaked out by spiders that are rubbery or have no logical means of locomotion. It is so irrational.
This irrationality makes even less sense when you consider this: I am completely unafraid of crickets. Lately, there have been an unusual number of crickets – I learned only tonight that they are called camel crickets – in the house. Here’s why it is so irrational: this insect is very similar in size, color, and markings to a wolf spider. But I am fine with them. Tonight, in fact, I picked one up (the one in the photo) and posed it next to a penny for scale. Then I picked it up again and tossed it into the front yard.
I could no more make myself do that with a wolf spider than I could a coiled viper or attacking bear. Wolf spiders are actually doing good work in my house by hunting and eating unwelcome insects, and they are absolutely as harmless as the cricket, but any that I see are terminated with extreme prejudice.
Please, dear reader, explain this paradox.