Today, I took my kids to Happyland, an indoor play center here in Muscat. Surprisingly, they love it. Unsurprisingly, I don’t.
Watching my two daughters zooming around on a carousel full of blinking lights that is supposed to be the galaxy, I feel it. The fear, creeping up on me. Has the machine been maintained properly? Has the guy controlling it received proper training? The girls, of course, are oblivious to my fear. They are laughing, screaming in delight. They’re having fun, they love the buzz that ride gives them.
During my 13 years of expat life, I have felt my fair share of fear. When my daughter was born in Damascus, my husband was unexpectedly denied access to the operating theater and I didn’t know what was going on because my grasp of Arabic was nowhere near good enough. When I discovered a black cobra was my first garden guest on Borneo. When I drive in Oman, on crazy roads where people think nothing of texting at 120km/h and 2015 saw 6,279 car accidents and 675 people dead.
When I arrive in a new country; forced to go out there and start over again, building a life for myself and my family. When we come to the end of a contract, and I don’t know what our future will look like, what choices I’ll have to make. I feel fear, of the unknown, but perhaps more importantly, of my own inability to control my surroundings.
‘Fear is an illusion,’ he told an audience in awe and tears. ‘Our minds make it a reality. Danger is a reality, what we do is action and what we feel, is fear. When fear hits your mind, imagine a windshield wiper and wipe it away.’
He urged us to shift our focus, to stop wasting energy and brain capacity and to use our brain constructively; fearlessly.
‘If I had let fear control me,’ Bellin said, ‘I’d have missed out on all the resources life put in front of me.’ If he had let fear control him, he may not have made it.
Thinking back to Bellin’s speech, I know I have allowed fear, fear of something that may never happen, to occupy my brain, my energy and my resources.
Perhaps I do this more often than I like to admit. If I feel this way about a kids’ carousel, how does fear influence more important decision in my life? Do I waste my energy to fear? Do I miss opportunities? Do I worry unnecessarily? If’m brutally honest; I do. I say no instead of yes. I allow fear to live in my mind.
‘I live my life today,’ Bellin concluded his keynote. ‘I don’t think too far ahead, and I connect to the present. If we don’t, we miss things.’
I focus on my daughters again. I hear their delighted screams. I ignore my questions and wave at them. Next time, I’ll join them. I may not be able to do it fearlessly the first time, but I’ll do it. I’ll do it afraid.
Let’s open our eyes to the world. Let’s try to grab the resources available to us. Let’s turn our windshield wipers on.
Picture: Sebastian Bellin, keynote speaker at Families in Global Transition annual conference March 23rd-25th, 2107