“What is a fear of living? It’s being preeminently afraid of dying. It is not doing what you came here to do, out of timidity and spinelessness. The antidote is to take full responsibility for yourself – for the time you take up and the space you occupy. If you don’t know what you’re here to do, then just do some good.”—Maya Angelou
The Colors of Fear
I just read the last chapter in Catherine Watson’s travel book, “Home on the Road.” I understood the title perfectly as the road is where I, too, feel most at home. Catherine and I are both addicted wanderers. The travel bug bit her when she read the Tarzan books. It hit me when I read Osa Johnson’s “I Married Adventure.” Both of us at the time were still a few years away from being teenagers. Both of us went on to become journalists – and. being of a similar age, both of us were taught as children how to hide beneath our school desks, cover our heads and close our eyes in case of a nuclear bomb attack by our arch-enemy, Russia.
The last chapter in “Home on the Road” talks about those Cold War days, and how Catherine’s fears of being nuked negatively impacted her life. Looking back on my own life, I now wonder if that’s when I first begin sticking my head in the sand to block out bad stuff happening around me so I could pretend all was right with my world.
I suspect, having overcome our fears, is why Catherine and I can both fearlessly travel alone to unknown places, and why we’re not obsessively fearful of terrorist alerts, that after 9-11 varied in degree by designated color – with blue being the lowest danger alert and red being the highest danger.
I can no longer stick my head in the sand and say the danger isn’t real, and even more dangerous than our Cold War fears. But I choose not to live my life in fear.
Catherine’s last story in her travel book related the fears she had as a child to what she was seeing when she took a 1979 Trans-Siberian Railroad trip across the then Soviet Union to get a “first-hand look at the country I’d spent my childhood being afraid of, The truth hit me hardest in Irkutsk…. Half the population was living in log cabins without indoor plumbing…. I watched old people wearing heavy clothes against the cold, carrying buckets and trudging slowly along dirt streets to get to the neighborhood water pipe, and suddenly I was flooded with anger.
“For this? ‘I thought,’ For this I gave up my childhood?”
She went on to say that this time around she refused to be afraid. I guess one time was enough for me, too. But I wonder what negative impacts young children today are suffering because our primary colors have become symbols of danger?
Bean Pat: Bella Remy’s photos http://tinyurl.com/n4rpcp2 Great photos of a pair of hoodies, also known as hooded mergansers. Looking at them makes up for the fact I was too slow to photograph the gila woodpecker that stood on my balcony rail this morning. Life is good.