If you were to look at me from a reasonable distance you would never imagine that under my cool seemingly unflappable exterior lies a geyser of festering terror just below the surface.
It is the result of trying to live my life without the comfort of the pretend safety net provided for me by my mother who is like a cross between a Woody Allen maternal movie caricature and a Sicilian death squad.
It took years of talking myself through situations that I was determined to conquer but had been taught to dutifully avoid like flying in an airplane and swimming in the Pacific (most shark attacks happen in three feet of water or less you know!) before I could stop white knuckling it while going through the motions and have an authentically joyful experience.
Whether it was an ominous foreboding hunch or a mildly threatening prediction, mom always had you thinking the worst could happen, and if it did, it would be happening directly to you.
It was this type of contrary news , delivered with the zealous fervor of an unhinged televangelist, that got me thinking.
When faced with the proof that negativity rots the soul, I realized this was clearly a problem, as I had specialized in second generation negativity since the 80’s thanks to mom.
That, and I could effectively live a life where NOTHING at all happened inside a safe room thereby giving the woman who birthed me exactly what she wanted OR I could go enjoy myself at the risk of being taken hostage by angry pirates next time I was on a boat.
So I took a mental inventory of things I’ve done that gave me pause, but I did anyway.
Took a hot air balloon ride past Pikes Peak in Colorado.
Rode horses through Garden of the Gods.
Attended hundreds of rock concerts in questionable attire with varied and interesting people.
Married a guy who could grow a beard.
Traveled far and wide in planes, trains and automobiles.
Had three kids.
Jumped off a cliff (into water)
Drove a boat and a jet ski.
Used a public toilet in Mexico. It was an emergency, don’t judge me.
Okay, the longer I sat and thought about this the bigger the list got and I started to sound completely reckless and foolhardy so I cut it short. You get the basic idea though.
These days the old battle-ax drops her fear pellets around the fringes where they can still be found but are harder to detect.
Usually they come by email and have a simple subject line like “SEE!” or “Watch the kids to make sure they don’t have these symptoms!” followed by an attachment from CNN breaking news.
I’ve been warned about the following.
Bankruptcy and foreclosure for the non frugal.
Venereal Disease for the promiscuous.
Splinters for those who run on hardwoods with bare feet.
Plane crashes for those that fly in the winter (they aren’t de-icing those wings for nothing you know)
And of course a head injury for the careless or those without a helmet.
These days I just laugh and hit the delete button but sometimes I still find myself checking to see if anyone in my house has that weird looking rash she emailed me about the other day.