When I hauled my pathetic butt into the halls of recovery, I heard everybody talking about fear. Like at every meeting. “I’m in a lot of fear about my job,” they said. “I had to let go of fear about my relationship,” they said. “I’m struggling with my fear inventory,”they’d complain. Honestly, I had no fucking idea what any of this had to do with stopping drinking but seeing I was kinda dying and out of options, I played along. Months later (and it did take months) when my cocaine and tequila fog started to clear, I heard what people were saying: Fear was a bad enough muthafucker that it could keep people in misery, it could ruin ambitions and it could keep people drinking.
Nearly seven years later, I really get it. Fear, that tricky bitch, still creeps up on me, paralyzes me, ruins plans and generally pisses me off. The trick today is seeing it when it’s happening AND taking action. The second part of that is important because I can be in fear and know it but not do anything about it because misery is a hot tub I like to soak in for hours. Like the rest of the folks on this planet with a soul, I could not make sense of the horrific events in San Bernardino last week. Senseless. Horrible. Fucking sad and redundant. But I kept the details at an arm’s length. Engaging in hours of 24-hour news torture porn was one of my old drinking activities and I choose not to do it today. I’m good with the headlines, praying for all involved and not getting obsessed. Besides, the other 65 billion voices on the internet screaming about Islam and gun control have it pretty much covered I think. Yet I did stumble on an article on my phone which not only discussed the events ad nauseam but talked about, you guessed it–fear.
Basically, the piece touched on the fact that while the mass shooting incidents themselves haven’t increased (depending on which report you read) our fear has skyrocketed. USA Today writes, a “Congressional Research Service report on mass public shootings found that 2012 was a particularly brutal year — seven mass public shootings, compared to an average of four per year — and suggested that the horrific year had a lasting impact on public opinion. ‘Several such mass murders in 2012, seven incidents by most counts, compounded a fear among many people that, ‘this could happen to me’,’ the authors of the report wrote.” Ah ha! Out of all the sadness, ignorance and talking heads of the last week, this little tidbit from that newspaper you only read on an airplane made sense to me. Fear. Making trouble again and putting the planet in a tailspin. The idea that yes these mass shootings are incredibly awful and fucked up but our fear that we might be next isn’t exactly helping matters was a revelation to me for some reason. Although it shouldn’t have been. After all, I’ve been listening to drunks and drug addicts for years talk about how fear has wrecked their lives.
The truth is, I am truly heartbroken over San Bernardino. And Paris. And Tulsa. And Waco. And Charleston. And Detroit. And Columbus. And Paris. Again. And Aurora. And Sandy Hook. Still. And me being in fear isn’t going to heal any of this. But maybe being compassionate to the average person on the street or trying to be of service or just not being a self-involved twat for an afternoon might help. It certainly can’t hurt and I’m willing to give it a try.