Last week, my Composition I students had to write a blog post responding to Stephen King’s short piece called “Why We Crave Horror Movies.” The prompt asked them to persuade their audience that their method of “keeping the insanity at bay” is acceptable. Here’s my own response.
King hit it right on the nose: We are all crazy. How we deal with it, though, is individual. I love horror movies—so King pegged me exactly—and I love running.
Watching horror movies fills me with terror, fear. And I love it. I live a very privileged life. My belly is always full, I sleep in a warm bed in a nice house next to a loving husband. I have never been abused or neglected. My close friends are hilarious. The only emotion that I don’t experience regularly is fear, so I get that from horror movies. I give myself over to them, allow myself to believe the most ridiculous plot lines, in order to feel scared. They make me bite my fingernails, wring my hands, huddle under the throw blanket. And I love every minute of it.
Running, on the other hand, is how I deal with all other sources of mental illness. Stress. Depression. Temptation. Anxiety. Insomnia. Running (or getting your heart rate up in whatever way possible) floods your body with happy chemicals. That is one major reason that it helps keep the insanity at bay. But it also puts you face-to-face with life. There’s no faking it in running. You are either pushing yourself or you are working out at a lower intensity. Or you’re walking. It’s you and the trail. There are no illusions about the task at hand; you can see the miles ahead of you, can feel the miles you’ve already put behind you. When there’s no where to hide and nothing to hide behind, you gain a new clarity on life. That, and exhausting myself on a regular basis, helps me pass out when my head hits the pillow. (And getting enough sleep helps us all keep our insanity under control!)