Those who do not move do not notice their chains. – Rosa Luxemburg
Warning. Caution. Beware. Danger. Our world is riddled with advisories that, if followed, would have all of humanity paralyzed with fear of ever leaving home. Just research any food item and you’ll find pages of reasons to trash 80% of your stocked pantry. (Not that I completely disagree with this, given the standard American diet, but that’s another article, entirely.) If you’ve ever seen the movie, Lemony Snicket’s- A Series of Unfortunate Events, you’ll recall Aunt Josephine never using the door knobs for fear that they’ll shatter into a million tiny pieces, or the radiator, for fear that it will explode. She warns the kids to stay away from the fridge, “for if it falls, it will crush you flat.” While Aunt Josephine and her extreme paranoia of the miniscule chance that the highly unlikely would occur, she was afraid of anything that moved. And, if it moved, she nailed it to the floor. My mother, God love her, would tell you herself, she is overly anxious. She has an extreme case of astraphobia…the term for fear of thunder and lightening. She watches the weather channel for Colorado, Texas, Tennessee, Florida, Indiana and for some reason, California, even though my son no longer lives there.My ability to earn a weekly paycheck in the sport of skydiving is entirely weather dependent. But, I rarely have to check for weather systems, because, if bad weather is anywhere within a hundred mile radius of me, mom’s calling. But, not for too long, because lightening. And, cell phones. And, our ears being set ablaze. I joke about it, but to her, it’s a very real thing, even though nothing bad, ever, in all her 74 years has happened during a storm. It’s the “what ifs” that steal her peace. She marvels at how excited I get when it storms. I love thunder, rain and, if it’s not striking my house, lightening. I find it relaxing. But, I digress. In a world where coffee is damned by the food lords today when it was praised yesterday, how do we know what to believe? The basic foods in our diet, I’m certain, each have an article linking them to cancer. That sore elbow you thought you got from sleeping in a weird position? Cancer. And, forget about any strange skin irritation. It’s most DEFINITELY cancer. With medicine no longer a mystery, thanks to the internet and the flow charts that all essentially say, “Does it hurt?” >yes> cancer. Is it painless? >yes> asymptomatic in the early stages>cancer… I had to take a personal oath to visit only Mayo or a reputable university website when seeking insight beyond a doctor visit. While it’s our right (and our responsibility) to be informed, sometimes it’s downright stressful, magnifying our minor concerns to those just below the level of Aunt Josephine’s. Two camps tend to occupy the plethora of warnings- those who find some credibility in most all perceived hazards and those who’ve given up and say, “Screw it. EVERYthing kills you!” While cautions about the hazards of an excessive amount of red meat in one’s diet may not be what keeps us awake at night, I absolutely believe the threats and warnings that permeate society create a subtle, anxious undertow in our personal lives. If you don’t think so, imagine a world where, everywhere you looked, you saw just the opposite. Instead of red triangles and danger signs, what if there were subliminal signs, everywhere, that you were safe and on the right track? I’m not suggesting we take down the rip current warnings to would-be surfers and swimmers. But, what if, placed in random areas about your town, on public transit, billboards, tv ads, and (since we’re pretending) the news, were messages of encouragement and tranquility? How would this look? I have no clue. I live in the same world as you. I’m warned about everything, too. Even our phones, which are always in reach, try to scare us. I recently was the lucky recipient of 15 flash flood warning texts complete with a mini siren in a 2 hour period. And, when the storm had passed, there was a jumbotron traffic sign over the interstate with the ever-so-subtle suggestion to “Turn around. Don’t drown.” If we MUST stick a warning label on literally every tangible surface, shouldn’t we also get the benefit of coming home every evening having passed hundreds of “You’re fine” messages, too? I know. It’s irrational. What I find equally irrational is the fear of moving. That can mean quitting the job you hate or leaving the town you’ve outgrown or signing up for art lessons. We are a terrified society. And, I get it…we can hardly find a documentary that leaves us feeling uplifted. I cut the nightly news out of my life years ago, I was so addicted, to both local and world events. After the initial withdrawal, there is no way I’d have that crap back in my life. I’ve unfollowed enough arm chair politicians on social media to fill a small village along the Amazon. Somehow, I still know the big stuff, the headlines, and unfortunately, more than enough opinions as to who and what’s right and wrong. I don’t care, PS. And, I don’t care if you care that I don’t care. What I do care about is fundamental freedom. Personal empowerment. The courage to step out of a comfort zone that’s been anything but comfortable, sometimes for decades. Another movie worth mentioning in this post is “The Truman Show.” If you haven’t seen it, I highly recommend it. It’s deep. I pick up on different nuances that previously escaped me each time I watch it. But, the line that stands out, every single time? “We accept the reality of the world with which we’re presented. It’s as simple as that.” I hope that gives you chills. I hope you question the world, and leave some white space on your calendar to “move.” I hope you are afraid to remain afraid and you do that thing that takes more courage than you think you have. I can’t rent a billboard or a jumbotron road sign you pass daily, but if I could, I’d tell each of you that we are so incredibly capable, it’s staggering. If you don’t think so, do one thing everyday for a month that you are truly afraid to do. It doesn’t have to be big, or world changing to anyone else…It just has to be big enough for you to notice the chains. Move. Peace, Warriors.