Don’t let fear get in your way

Bad things hap­pen all the time but that shouldn’t stop you from liv­ing life to the fullest.

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - Living - star2@thes­tar.com.my Mary Sch­nei­der

IT’S been a few years since I spent Christ­mas with my two chil­dren, so I was es­pe­cially ex­cited when I re­cently dis­cov­ered that our re­spec­tive sched­ules meant that we could cel­e­brate the fes­tive sea­son to­gether this com­ing De­cem­ber. I quickly booked my flight to London, where my son lives, and be­gan mak­ing plans.

As I drifted off to sleep that night, I’m sure I had a big grin on my face as I thought about our re­union. I also have a sis­ter who lives in London with her fam­ily, so I was sure there would be lots of catch­ing up on my hol­i­day agenda.

The fol­low­ing morn­ing, I de­cided to check the news on­line while I waited for the ket­tle to boil. I gasped when I read the first head­line. There had been a ter­ror at­tack on London Bridge. As I quickly scanned the re­port, I was aware of the beat­ing of my heart.

Seem­ingly, some pedes­tri­ans had been mowed down by a van driven by ter­ror­ists on the bridge, while oth­ers had been stabbed af­ter the same per­pe­tra­tors had aban­doned their ve­hi­cle.

As I switched on my mo­bile phone, a large knot be­gan form­ing in the pit of my stom­ach. How­ever, there were no mes­sages from my son or any in­di­ca­tion that he’d tried to reach out to me.

I took a deep breath, booted up my lap­top and signed onto my Face­book ac­count, where I have a group chat ded­i­cated to the mem­bers of my fam­ily. My sis­ter and her fam­ily were fine, but there was no men­tion of my son.

I tried to ban­ish the un­think­able thoughts that were form­ing in my mind, but I couldn’t do any­thing about my shak­ing hands as I typed out a group mes­sage ask­ing for news of my son.

The next few min­utes went by as if in slow mo­tion. I had to do some­thing; any­thing but stare at my com­puter screen.

I’d just gone into the kitchen to make a cup of tea when I heard the un­mis­tak­able sound of a Face­book alert. I ran back to look at the screen. It was my son. He was on hol­i­day in Spain. And yes, he’d told me about his plans the week be­fore, but I’d ob­vi­ously for­got­ten all about them.

I let out a huge sigh.

When I’ve read about ter­ror­ist at­tacks in the past, I’ve al­ways felt bad for the fam­i­lies and friends of the peo­ple who have been slain dur­ing such cow­ardly and das­tardly acts.

I can’t imag­ine how any­one can be­gin to come to terms with such a sud­den and bru­tal loss. Ev­ery­thing must seem so sur­real to them.

I sus­pect some­where at the back of my mind there is a lit­tle self­ish thought that thinks, “Thank good­ness I don’t have to go through that.”

Don’t mis­un­der­stand me, I don’t wish any­one any ill, but I’ve never had to cope with such a hor­rific loss. It’s as if these things just hap­pen to other peo­ple.

Still, I some­times have the thought that one day I might be un­lucky enough to be one of those other peo­ple. And I know such thoughts can be so de­struc­tive if you let them take root.

I’m not an overly pes­simistic sort of per­son. I don’t think peo­ple are out to get me, or my dreams won’t amount to any­thing, or there’s dan­ger lurk­ing around ev­ery cor­ner. Sure, bad things hap­pen – all the time.

You just have to look at the front page of any news­pa­per to see ev­i­dence of this: Peo­ple and an­i­mals are harmed/killed. Prop­erty is de­stroyed. Peo­ple are left home­less. Nat­u­ral dis­as­ters wreak havoc. Crops die. There is too much or too lit­tle wa­ter. Peo­ple be­come dis­abled or home­less. The list is end­less.

But I also know it’s how you re­spond to these events that’s im­por­tant.

I will not can­cel my trip to London, or think my flight is go­ing to be blown out of the sky, or feel afraid when I walk around the streets of London, or worry end­lessly about my son as he takes the train to work ev­ery day.

If you let other peo­ple or events dic­tate your ac­tions, they will ren­der you pow­er­less and rob you of the life you should be liv­ing. And that’s no way to live.

Check out Mary on Face­book at www. face­book.com/mary.sch­nei­der.writer

— 123rf.com

Are you well-equipped to weather the storms in life?

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