I never considered myself brave until I stood up to terrorists and refused to cancel my travel plans. I'll pack my bags, plan my trips, and I will have a good time. But I'll do it knowing that being brave is part of the plan.
I'll admit it. I'm pretty scared sometimes to travel. After the attacks in England, I actually considered canceling our trip to London. But that is what the want, isn't it?
I stood in horror watching from Seattle, as video of the attacks in London came through. Minutes earlier I had been looking at restaurants in London and planning to visit the Borough Market. Our hotel overlooks the London bridge, overlooks where people died. We could have been out there.
This isn't my first time.
I've lived through terrorist attacks already. I just didn't think of them the same way.
We were in Baltimore during the DC sniper attacks. Each day we woke up to see if they had killed anyone we knew. We avoided getting gas, ran from our cars into the grocery stores and hid our children off playgrounds. But we lived. We were part of terrorism, but with a different agenda, but the drive to cause terror was still there.
What made this very real was that the terrorists weren't caught immediately, we didn't know who or how many. We didn't even know exactly where.
I still remember looking at every car that drove slow, fearing we were next. The reality was that for 3 weeks, they drove around killing random people. They murdered 10 strangers without any reason at all. 3 weeks that felt like 3 years. But life went on.
9/11 wasn't enough.
It seems like a lifetime ago, and yet I still remember the silence. We were still living outside of Baltimore when 9/11 happened. We all know the stories, many of us still remember where we were when we heard. We had friends at the towers in NYC and family in DC. Terrorists came for our friends and family, and for a few hours, we were scrambling to call them, find out more, and scared this wasn't the end.
Yet the thing I remember the most was the silence. I stood outside, looking for my husband who had to go into our sons' school and physically take them out of their classrooms because the schools didn't have a plan on how to send the children home. I stood on the steps looking around and the silence struck me. No cars on the highway, no sound of trucks going by. There was a stark contrast to the day before. No helicopters or planes overhead. Everyone just stopped moving for a little while.
But after a few days, life actually went on. It took some time before I was brave enough to get on a plane. But that next summer, we packed up the kids and boarded our flight. You can't let terrorists or tragedies stop your life. Not now… not ever. Or else they win.
Don't stop living!
I'm still planning where I'm going and planning all of the yummy food we will eat. We are not backing down and hiding from scary things. Life has to keep moving forward and we have to keep living. Pack your bags and book your flights!
An article I read suggested that it is far more likely that you'll run into trouble in your own car, in your own town, just simply driving than traveling the world. Honestly, that made me feel better about taking the time I have to enjoy the world and going out to see what's beyond my horizon, instead of sitting in my house afraid of what could happen if I leave.
I've taken greater risks without even knowing it.
I am going to go explore ancient ruins this fall. I'm headed to London in a couple of weeks to ride the double-decker buses and wave to the Queen! Because I've taken greater risks and lived to tell the stories.
I've held on tight to a boy and his motorcycle as the wind tangled my hair. And I lived to be old enough to shake my head at that craziness.
I've driven across the country back and forth a few times, ate snacks at late-night truck stops, I talked to strangers. I love the feeling of going your own way, exploring along the route, and not letting time be your guide. Just go… be free. Turn off the media and turn on your sense of adventure.
The best way to move through your fears of traveling is to grab your bags and go! You are more likely to come back with great memories than scary stories. You can't hold back chasing your fireflies just because someone else wants you to be afraid in the dark.