Why I may be living in a horror show

This month I watched a series adapted from a book by Steven King and, notwithstanding the very real scary world we live in, I realised that there are many parallels between the rules that govern the lives of the characters in a horror series and my own life right now.

You can’t see the whole picture
By the end of the third episode, I was so uneasy because I still had no idea what the bad thing actually was. The ability to categorise what is scaring us allows us to deal with it and gives us some sense of control over our fate. I can’t see the whole picture right now, but just as the characters in a series keep acting and reacting to propel the plot forward, I have travelled from where I was then, to where I am now. This makes me cautiously optimistic that I may be around for a while.

Scary noises, man
Some scenes of the series’ protagonist driving through semirural Atlanta, Georgia could have been adverts to sell cars if they had a cheerful tune playing over them. Instead, every winding snake of road felt like a path to certain doom (with string instruments). It’s the same in my life right now. The sounds that used to filter softly into my office are so different from the ones I hear working from home.

The constant interruptions can be anxiety-inducing. When I write, I need to crawl into my own brain and operate in silence, but the soundtrack to my life blares in, vacillating between cheerful PG-rated chatter and full-on suspense thriller nailsdown- the-chalkboard screams, all at a moment’s notice — talk about a jump-scare! The constant girding of loins through these transitions can be tiring. But I don’t hear the chords of imminent doom so I’m not about to meet my untimely end.

You have to stay with the group
One of the most important rules of surviving a horror story is to never, ever, split from the group. “I’ll be right back” foreshadows that you defintely won’t. Lockdown has indirectly guaranteed my survival through making it impossible to split from my family group at all. Even if I want to.

You have to be the smart one
Another rule of the genre is that the resourceful characters tend to survive. I keep looking to my left and right. If those around me are smarter, I need to learn from them and quickly upskill to stick around. This is no time to be complacent.

It’s generally behind you
The thing that’s going to ‘get you’ is generally behind you. Metaphorically speaking, it’s comparing life now to life before lockdown that tends to be overwhelming. I have to live in the present, because if I live my life in the now, and don’t compare everything to the way it was before, things will seem less scary. See? The horror genre is full of useful allegories.

Never go into the forest. Better yet, #stayhome
This message is for those still going into the proverbial woods, or haunted houses, or dark basements when they don’t need to. Those choosing to go into the Forest of Blood and Death for a picnic are not making wise choices.

It’s not over when you think it is
When it finally seems like it’s all over, and the happy music starts to play, that’s when I need to double-down on my efforts. Just as in a horror show, what seems like the end of the story could just be the moment before the jump-scare cliffhanger, and if I want my contract renewed, I had better stay alert. Relaxing when it’s not all over could see the credits roll without me.

By Lindy Diamond, Editor Cape Jewish Chronicle

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