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September 02, 2011

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Could not possibly love this post more -- especially as I move through my life in colossal, messy, dangerous, spectacular Los Angeles. We all need at least a little risk to be happy and really alive!

I know I am putting in my two cents worth quite late. I have been distracted by a week long visit from son Andrew and daughter in law Michelle, their first visit home to Seattle since moving to NYC in May. NYC, is that a place of fear? Hardly, the New York population has faced the ultimate in fear, took it straight on and declared, we shall not, will not be afraid! Vigilant yes, afraid, no way, no how.

It is to me ironic, that these people have taken on this attitude yet the attack they survived is part of what has built the culture of fear in which we Americans now live. Fear in and of itself is not necessarily a bad thing but the anxiety that is the by product of fear is very bad indeed. The anxiety, is what, in my humble opinion, the fear mongerors, want us to feel. That is what keeps us in check, keeps us under control, keeps us from paying attention to what is really going on. And that is what I resent more than anything else. When I took my kids to the airport for their return flight back to the "Big Apple", I resented that I could not go inside with them, have breakfast, go with them to their departure gate and give them a proper send off.

When I was in college, sometimes I would go to the airport with my sister and a group of girlfriends. We would take empty suitcases and go to one of the restaurants, and pretend we were returning from some (pre determined) exotic location. It was a creative way to meet guys, inexpensive, harmless fun. Today, not only is an adventure of that nature an impossibility, but it would also be considered, dangerous, foolish, and risky business.

I for myself, have decided that I will not succumb to the fear that is spoon fed to us as a steady diet three meals a day. Life is too short. I cannot, will not, worry about what happened yesterday, or fear what might happen tomorrow, all I have, all any of us have is today, and I choose to not only live in the day, but to live in the moment, experiencing each moment as it comes with joy, not fear. Some may think it is trite, but I choose to live by the simple philosophy as written by Depak Chopra: "The past is history, the future a mystery, and today is a gift which is why we call it, the present". Sorry for the length of this post but as Candice knows, this is a subject that I am quite passionate about and it is hard to put those passionate feelings into only a few words. Thanks for the opportunity to pontificate Candice!

Wonderful, Robin, thanks so much for this contribution to the conversation. I'm intrigued by "risk homeostasis". Makes sense, doesn't it? This abdicating of personal responsibility to government or "anyone but me" seems the crux of the matter. "Not my fault!" It's a license for stupidity, IMHO. No reason to think, if someone else will do it for you...and then it becomes habitual.

As Timothy Leary said back in the day (and it's still as relevant as ever): Think for yourself and question authority.

Good post, Candice, as always.

You'll also rarely see fencing or warning signs around steep cliffs in Mexico, as you do NOB. Without them, people would sue because nobody told them that stepping on to slippery rocks a thousand feet above a rocky canyon could very likely result in their plummeting to the bottom. People in Mexico seem to inherently understand those consequences.

But that's what a lot of this is about, right, "consequences"? And "responsibility". And "common sense". And how so many people seem to be allergic to those concepts. It's like the theory of "risk homeostasis", a hypothesis developed by a Canadian that basically says that, the greater the protection, the more people seem to take risks. Or, as the example given on Wikipedia: "...in a Munich study, half a fleet of taxicabs were equipped with anti-lock brakes (ABS), while the other half had conventional brake systems. The crash rate was the same for both types of cab, and Wilde concludes this was owing to drivers of ABS-equipped cabs taking more risks, assuming that ABS would take care of them, while the non-ABS drivers drove more carefully since ABS would not be there to help in case of a dangerous situation."

People seem to push boundaries because they live in a society that tells them someone else will be to blame if their risky behavior leads to tragedy. "It's not your fault you got burned when you tucked that cup of scalding hot coffee between your legs while you were driving, it's McDonald's fault for not telling you not to tuck that scalding cup of coffee between your legs while driving! How were you supposed to know?"

As Yogi Berra so clearly stated, "I never blame myself when I'm not hitting. I just blame the bat and if it keeps up, I change bats. After all, if I know it isn't my fault that I'm not hitting, how can I get mad at myself?"

Here's a quote for you, Greg, by William Dean Howells, a contemporary and friend of Mark Twain:

"He who sleeps in continual noise is wakened by silence."

So glad you're awake!

xo
C

I'd like to clarify the 'mental martial-law' statement...during my tenure in Seattle, and in my former marriage, I was constantly bombarded with the concept that there wasn't time to consider my own feelings, or spirituality, or happiness, because 'this is an emergency! What's wrong with this picture? EVERYTHING! Everything is wrong and must be fixed, NOW! The bills have to be paid, and dinner has to be made, and traffic has to be negotiated, and the house is a mess, and you aren't making enough money, and your job isn't prestigious enough, and the Berlin Wall we built on the Mexican border needs to be bigger, and longer, because we are terrified of 'those people', and Homeland Security has just upgraded the Washington State Ferry System to MarSec 4-Orange (Marine Security), and you have to be careful of all the other drivers around you, because they might be terrorists, and you get buried deeper, and deeper, and deeper in the day-to-day crises that seem so important, and everything is so noisy, and there isn't time for ANYTHING, because EVERYTHING is an emergency, and this is Martial Law, and you don't have the time or the RIGHT to think about what is really happening, because this is an EMERGENCY. And lo, I arrived in Mexico two months ago, and found that there wasn't any emergency, it was just the ravings of a lunatic society, and for the FIRST TIME I heard silence, and peace, and calm, and my own spiritual voice saying to myself, "What's wrong with this picture? Not ONE, SINGLE THING. Breathe, and listen to your heart, and by the way, welcome to paradise."

Reminds me of when I was a kid, my friends and I used to outfit our bikes with monkey bars and banana seats and ride them down ravines over jumps we built ourselves (this was long before "mountain bikes" were heard of), taking huge risks seeing how far you could skid sideways, pop a wheelie, etc., all without a helmet or regard for any personal safety at all. We would stay out all day long until the sun set and our mothers would holler for us to come in. Nowadays I chuckle a little when I see not only kids but adults on their top of the line bikes, totally outfitted in helmets, knee pads, gloves and spandex suits. They never even wore helmets in the NHL and today it seems ludicrous not to. We also used to walk for miles to school and back, and all over to friends' places. There was never any fear in us. But we never heard of any serial killers or child abductors back then, so I can understand why parents drive their kids to and from school. Kids grow up with that fear. And then the world changed even more after 9/11. There is a real danger out there and it's a shame, but we do tend to go overboard in our society and it restricts people from taking chances. What's the fun in that?

"Pussification"! My new favorite word. And "the freedom to tempt fate." I'm with you all the way. Thanks, Jeremy.

What do you think, Travis? Should we all just curl up in little armadillo bug balls until 9/12? Or maybe....forever???

Good rant, Gretchen! Sorry you lost the first one (I just hate when that happens) but so glad you speed-typed a second.

Bravo and brava!! Keep 'em coming!

A huge part of living here, in this modern day wild west, is the lax sentiment towards laws and social norms many of us are used to up North. I feel that there is a lot of romance knowing that there is a dangerous element associated with living abroad. The growing litigiousness and over protected "pussification" of other cultures certainly breeds fear. That lends itself to having more and more people staying inside, behind locked doors, in front of the TV. Personally I enjoy the prospect of living a life in which one has the freedom to tempt fate.

PS. the Jimmy Buffet nod is great this week.

I just noticed that today - and I'm not kidding - the U.S. Department of State issued a "Worldwide Travel Alert" for September 11, 2011 reminding us that this month marks the 10-year anniversary of the "9-11" terrorist attacks on the United States. The gist of the message was that it would not be beyond the realm of possibility for something dangerous to happen on that day, so if you absolutely must spend the 11th on this planet, take all necessary precautions. Prudent.

@$&*%&) I just wrote a great long answer, hit the wrong key and lost the whole %^()&*()&$ thing! In essence I think it pretty well said that Ignorance of Statistics is Bliss. Those of us who can strike knowledge of certain things out of our mind are very capable of carrying on with no rules. I envy the ability, I am sad that our world has come to a point where we need so many rules, many of them made for the purpose of creating a cash cow, possibly the rest for the control freaks in the crowd! A very thoughtful post, and most certainly the great difference between life north of Mexican border and life south of it... the one we all go there for... the beaufitul innocence of red tape in the form of personal rules. The only one I have a little problem with, maybe because I am a Mom, is letting kids decide what they will do with grownup toys. Maybe they should get Uncle Pancho's horse instead of the quad! I hope I hit the right key this time!!!!! I type too fast on my laptop and this seems to be the sad outcome, lose it all!!! Looking forward to more input on this post....

Ha! Perfect example, Beck. I'm going to have to see that movie...

LOL! And that's why we love Mexico! Craig and I watched the film Alamar recently and had a good laugh at the scene where the little boy is playing on the beach right in front of a crocodile. The dad looks over and tells the little boy to keep an eye on that crocodile, but doesn't make any attempt to intervene. In the U.S., everyone would have run screaming for safety and waited for the game warden to arrive and incarcerate the thing in a metal cage!

Great post Candice and so true. Times really have changed since we were young. "Land of the Free has become the Land of the At Least We're Safe" - genius.

See you soon!

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