The Illusion of Safety

I started this post a year ago after a trip. And it sat unfinished while I procrastinated. I didn’t want to think about it. I didn’t want to look at the obvious truth. A co-worker I had known for over ten years died this week and now I’m again forced to stare at the truth

Every time I pack for a flight I get slightly panicked.  I’m always afraid that I will forget something or miss the flight.  A million things run through my head, all of the ways the trip could go wrong. As I was riding the shuttle to the terminal I thought about why.

And it was obvious. I don’t fly often, at most a handful of times a year. While I know how to get around an airport as well as anyone, it isn’t my comfort zone. What is a comfort zone? It’s where we know how things work and what to expect. It’s where we feel safe.

But are we really safe? Is “safe” even a real thing? It’s an illusion. It’s a byproduct of routine, of the familiar. We want the world around us to be predictable. We want just a tiny bit of control over our lives. In reality what we control is only our decisions. Surprises happen, good and bad. We don’t think about how fragile life is until we’re forced into an unfamiliar situation or someone we know is hit by tragedy. We do everything we can to make it seem like we’re safe, our families are safe, and everything is okay. But by doing so we also ignore how precious our time is, how nothing is guaranteed.

This isn’t meant to motivate by fear. This is meant to motivate by seeing clearly that reality is unpredictable. We can ignore the truth or spend each day fully aware of how much of a gift our time and our abilities are.