In late summer 1949, Roosevelt High school sophomore Thelma Taylor was abducted, held captive, and brutally murdered under the area of St. John’s bridge now known as Cathedral Park. Stories circulate that Thelma’s ghost haunts the area of her death, and police regularly respond to reports from late-night visitors of Cathedral Park, who claim they hear a young woman screaming, although the source of the screaming has never been identified.
Coming across Thelma Taylor’s ghost is just one of many spooky experiences to be explored in Portland; the Pittock mansion in NW Portland holds the promise of an other-worldly experience, as does the White Eagle Café and Saloon in NE, where a prostitute named Rose was killed in a lover’s quarrel and now purportedly weeps in the upper level rooms of the hotel.
An acute scare every once in awhile may provide some health benefits – the stress response triggered by an eerie sighting raises your heart rate, pumps blood to your muscles and brain, and shuts down nonessential bodily functions in preparation for ‘fight or flight,’ assuming that you will soon be out of harm’s way. The recovery period after an acute stress is important because it is during this time that you are able to repair and rebuild your body so that the next time you come across a good fright you are stronger, faster, and generally better-equipped to protect yourself. Unfortunately, many people avoid experiences that may frighten them, choosing instead to allow their fear of fear to dictate their life. Chronic fear may seem to offer protection from pain, but ultimately you will be sicker and weaker for not giving your body the opportunity to relax and recover.
There is no better way to combat fear than through engaging in daily physical exercise, which allows you to face fears of getting hurt, of feeling awkward, and of moving in new ways. What you gain is the unwavering ability to embrace every moment of every day with the hope and enthusiasm that propelled you forward as a child, into the wide world with arms spread wide and feet barely touching the ground. Create the habit of exercising every day and you open your heart, widen your chest, and take a deep breath as you let go of the idea that as you age you must adapt your behavior according to your fear. The child you once were is the person you are today, and your mind and body work together to bless you with endless possibilities. So think it and do it. Do it and think it. Do something that scares you every day and pretty soon you’ll remember that you forgot what it feels like to be afraid.