Day 20: Walk blindfolded around the block
Without fail, my older brother would violently yank my night light out the wall each evening upon coming into our shared bedroom, throwing it at the foot of our bunk beds.
“For the last time, stop plugging that thing in. There’s nothing to be scared of in here,” he’d say, waking me up. It was him. I could tell by the faint sound of Bill Joel rattling the headphones around his neck.
Now don’t get me wrong, I love my brother. But to be frank, I found his disregard for the snakes and monsters living under the bed to be intolerable.
“Matt, they don’t exist. Get over it.”
Like most children, I was petrified of the dark. And the only reason I was ever able to fall asleep in that room at all was because I knew the monsters would likely attack him first for being a nonbeliever.
“What planet is he from? How does he not realize?” I thought, resting my head back on the pillow.
But it didn’t really matter anyway. Being a Darwinian from birth, I figured that if I leapt from the top of the bed, I could probably be out the door before the monsters were even done with him on the lower bunk.
They’d never even know I was there.
Biology professor Dr. Jose Bronner of Indiana University says a fear of the dark is not a learned trait but rather it’s instinctual, handed to us from our great ancestors.
Dr. Bronner says that regardless of whether we were sleeping in trees or laying soundly on the ground, for millions of years our relatives were under the constant threat of being eaten by one of many types of night predators.
“In our history, before civilization, the world was a scary place,” he wrote. “There were many predators that hunted at night. In a very real sense, there were monsters out there. The world in which our ancestors lived was perilous.”
But there still were those who were not afraid of the dark and would resist taking precautionary measures at night, Dr. Bronner says.
However, those ancestors were likely gobbled up by fierce predators while parading around at night - leaving our yellow-bellied relatives around to breed. The brave ones that had an opportunity to breed pased down the genes that caused the same irrational behavior, but was eventually cut short because of their lack of fear.
So the next time you find yourself a little nervous in a dark room, be thankful for that itch in your stomach telling you to run. Without it, your relatives would have been monster food long before you were born.
That does, however, leave one question unanswered: Seriously, what planet is my brother from?
For Day 20 of The Time Hack I wanted to again put my fear of the dark to the test by walking blindfolded around a city block.