I Faced My Fear

Shot from the opening of “Have Gun Will Travel” right before Paladin points the gun at us.

This will sound really trivial, but to me it’s not.

I love the western television program Have Gun Will Travel. It stars Richard Boone as Paladin, a term fans of fantasy roleplaying may well recognize as referring to an honorable and exceptional knight. As described in the ending theme song as sung by Johnny Western, he is a “knight without armor.”

So what does this have to do with facing my fear? The opening of each episode features the same short visual scene, although the words are different, taken from the particular episode.  But each time we see Paladin aim a pistol directly at us–at me.  At that part, I always either skip it, turn away, or close my eyes.  Maybe it was because the fear of being shot by a gun was pounded into me as a kid–at the same time I was encouraged to go hunting.  Maybe it’s because I was once shot (although it was only a small piece of a bullet and the wound was trivial).  Maybe it’s because I’ve been the subject of several death threats.

In any case, today I watched an episode called “The Teacher” written by series co-creator Sam Rolfe.  I did not fast forward through the opening, I did not turn away, I did not close my eyes.  I felt uncomfortable, but I watched.

Later in the day, I watched the video for The Beatles “I Am the Walrus.”  I’ve seen it many times, but it always rather freaked me out.  This time it didn’t.