Mouse in the chest is an idiom from the Philippines. A person’s ‘mouse in the chest’ is a thing they fear. Chloe Lam, one of the talented students at the school where I taught in Hong Kong, did this clever visual representation of the Filipino idiom for an Advanced Placement art show.
When I taught high school I often studied a poem with my English students called Fear by American poet Raymond Carver. In his catalog verse Carver lists many of his own ‘mice in the chest’ including…………
Fear of a police car pulling into the driveway
Fear of telephones that ring in the dead of the night
Fear that what I love will prove lethal to those I love
Fear of my children’s handwriting on envelopes
Fear of having too much – although people will not believe this
While preparing to give a tour of Salvador Dali’s work at the Winnipeg Art Gallery I learned the famous Spanish artist had a ‘mouse in the chest’ for ants. He confronted his fear of the insects by putting them in his paintings and having an anteater for a pet.
Other famous people report interesting ‘mice in the chest’ as well. Nicole Kidman is a lepidopterophobe. She’s afraid of butterflies.
Walt Disney was afraid of mice.
Matthew McConaughey is scared of revolving doors.
One of my ‘mice in the chest’ is that I am scared every single time I take the first step onto an escalator and these days because I walk everywhere I’m absolutely petrified of slipping and falling on the icy Winnipeg sidewalks.
What’s your ‘mouse in the chest?’