You know what I really miss about being young? Fearlessness. The utter confidence – in fact, the absolute certainty – that nothing bad is going to happen to you. As you were walking out the door to meet your friends at a party your mother would yell, “Be SAFE!” And you would think, why does she even worry? I’m going to be totally fine.
I have lost that certainty over the years and I wish I still had it. I don’t like that a lot of my time is spent being fearful. Not worrying, because I’ve learned to let that go. A friend of mine once said that worry is lack of faith in God. It was a powerful idea that helps me get through a lot of days. I know I don’t have any control over most of that territory anyway.
But somehow I can’t translate that to fear, and the fear feels different than the worry (it IS an instinct after all). Maybe it’s because I know more of the world than I did when I was younger. Or I’ve outgrown the ability to completely block it out. Maybe because I’ve lost friends and seen people suffer and I know anything can and does happen.
I hate to admit it but the gun violence has really gotten to me. I have one night out a week to do whatever I want, and often that means going to the movies. But since Aurora I haven’t been able to go alone. My husband said, “A tornado ripped up a bunch of houses in Springfield, are you afraid of houses now?”
It’s not just that though. I’ve taken up biking again (which usually happens every summer and ends every winter) and have been spending a lot of time riding the bike paths. Often I go alone when the kids are at practice. I start out feeling fine and excited for a ride, and halfway through I start to feel dread.
I suspect everyone. That comes from watching Dexter, of course (damn you John Lithgow). But it’s even worse when somebody gives me a reason to suspect them, like the guy who looked like maybe he hadn’t taken his meds. I felt the nervousness begin. Granted, this was after almost being run over by a car and another biker, so my nerves were already on edge.
I reassured myself that I was fine, and kept on going. I’m on a bike and I’m fast, big, and strong (also damn you Chris Bohjalian for “The Double Bind”). I tried to calm myself down and keep riding, and think about why I get so scared. Then it hit me why this worry feels more intense than ever. Because nothing CAN happen to me. I have kids. I can’t not come home from this bike ride.
So I have to summon up that faith. I don’t want to be afraid to have a life. I can’t let the fear stop me. I go out riding as often as I can and look at the sunset and smell the BBQs and enjoy the feeling that exercise gives me. But there is always a very quiet little voice in the back of my mind saying God, get me back to my kids safely.