Tuesday, January 12, 2010
The World: Dangerous and Scary
I am tired of being scared. I am so tired of being a prisoner of my own irrational (and sometimes rational) fears. Mostly, I am just tired. That is what you get when you slink out of bed each morning in your combat gear, fists up, always expecting the worst and actually getting it some days. A stinging realization came to me yesterday: fearing everything has caused me to live a diminished life, a life without chance or exciting memories. My constant fear of the “what ifs” has led me to a life of “ho-hum”. I wonder now if it’s too late to change, and if it isn’t, am I even capable of updating into Me - Version 2.0?
I have always lived vicariously through other people. Lately, I have been following the madcap adventures of a twenty-three year old blogger that I stumbled upon by accident. She wants to be a writer, but she’s filling the meantime by being a nanny, watching movies, and, most recently, being an English teacher in Thailand. It’s that last part that intrigues me. This young girl left her parents’ comfortable home in Richmond, Virginia, and boarded a plane that took her across the globe. She did this all alone, all by herself. I couldn’t imagine traveling to Bangkok even if the President offered me Air Force One and his security detail, much less solo.
One of the glaring details that sets me apart from this girl (and oh, my friend, there are too many to mention here) is her ability to bounce back when bad things happen. Instead of being afraid of it, she rolls with it. She recounts a time when she was planning a weekend excursion to a remote beach in Thailand. (Note: remote beach + Thailand = SCARY) A few days before she was to leave, she contracted a raging case of swine flu. She dragged herself out of bed with a temperature of 104 and onto a city bus to see a doctor. I can only imagine how terrified I would be to wake up sick in a foreign country. I can only imagine how terrified I would be to wake up healthy in a foreign country, knowing that, at any moment, illness could befall me. And I wouldn’t even ride a city bus in Charlotte.
To make a long story short, she left for the trip still not well, her train crashed, she got back on the mangled train that hobbled its way to her destination, and then became even sicker upon arrival. Do you think she panicked like I would have if I was inexplicably in this situation? No, she just decided to leave her friends, get back on the train alone and head to Bangkok to pamper herself and recover for a few days in a luxury hotel. I want to be just like her when I grow up.
I can’t help but feel pangs of jealousy when I read about her life without fear. It makes me understand how much I have missed. Is it just her youth? Maybe she is too naïve to be afraid. Maybe her life has been about a big house with loving parents, a good school, lots of money and no hard times. Maybe in her life she has never experienced sickness or the death of loved one. Maybe she doesn’t realize that awful and scary are just around the corner waiting for the right moment to pounce. Or maybe, unlike me, she pushes those thoughts away and lives her life to the fullest, the way I wish I could.
There is so much of this world to see, and I get nervous just driving into downtown Charlotte. I get antsy and anxious at being a mere four hours away from home on vacation. What if the car breaks down? What if a pipe bursts and our house is flooded while we’re away? What if the kids get sick out of our healthcare network? What if there is a rogue Atlantic tsunami and we’re all washed out to sea to our deaths? (Hey, the thought has crossed my mind a time or two.) But then again, what if I relaxed for a change? What if I reconciled myself with the idea that bad things happen to everyone, and life goes on for most people? What if I channeled a little bit of that girl’s optimism and tried on some fun and adventure for size?
Yeah, right. When pigs fly…