Fear means more to me these days than it used to. From being a risk taker to leading a cosseted life, from “I don’t give a damn” attitude to diplomatic dealings and from driving a two wheeler with a total of three on board on the highway to checking the speedometer of the car too often, it has been a gradual deterioration.
Travel planning used to be fun and exciting, even more than the actual travel. These days though there is also a certain level of anxiety which just doesn’t go till I reach my destination. Couple of years back, we were planning a trip to India and with all the thrill of shopping for gifts and packing there was a gnawing apprehension about something I found hard to share with anyone. A friend who was travelling 2 days before me to the same place came over one day to exchange notes and we got talking about the unbearably long travel and things like that. Suddenly she said “I am so scared of something bad happening in the flight, like a hijack situation or something.” And it was exactly what was going on in my mind and I had felt like saying those very words. Thank God, I thought, there are people who have the same kind of fears and it means I am not insane!
And the thing is I don’t even know when these kind of tiny qualms started creeping in. Because as long as I remember, when packing to go anywhere, all I used to think about was the scenic route or the book to take on the journey or the new people I might meet and get to know on the way. Disaster never crossed my mind.
Same goes with the news that I read. News around the world used to generate a little bit of curiosity and concern earlier. Now when I read or hear about school shootings, child kidnappings and abuse, terror attacks or people dying of man-made disasters, it stays on me longer. At times I say a silent prayer and the other times I wish I could do something to prevent it (not very practical I suppose).
So why do I fear things that have never happened to me?
Is it aging? Is it a natural progression of the mind which goes from being carefree to being more aware of its surroundings and thereby the dangers present in it too? Or maybe it is the world that we live in today where something better gets invented everyday and so does something terrible.
Is it because of witnessing sad things happen to people you love and the realization of vulnerability that comes with it? Or maybe it is the unpredictability and brutality of life itself these days where the young are taken away before the old.
I think it is bits and pieces of everything put together. A sizable portion of it is growing up and becoming aware of the perils of the world, the bad with the good. It is also the easy accessibility to all kinds of information from every corner of this earth thanks to the media and its far-reaching connections. If I didn’t know half the things I would be happier!
But mostly I think it is because I have so much more to lose now.