One definite trend I notice in myself as I age is how damn afraid I am now. I don’t mean that I used to be bungee-jump-naked-while drunk-with strangers-in Columbia fearless. I wasn’t, my personality is just generally cautious but I never felt as consistently sick to my stomach about my own or my loved one’s safety as I do now. And I hate it.
I used to love tragic books about disease and loss. Did anyone else devour Lurlene McDaniel books as a tween? I vividly remember tears streaming down my face as I secretly stayed up late with a flashlight to finish one. Now they are akin to horror movies to me- still a sliver of enjoyment but also beyond terrifying. I just finished “Still Alice” by Lisa Genova. It was a perfect fit for me, science-y and tragic. But it terrified me out of my wits. It is like I used to be able to empathize with the characters without being crushed by the weight of their experience…I can’t really any more. I have had Joan Didion’s “Year of Magical Thinking” in my audible cart for a while but the sudden loss of a husband and child fills me with so much dread I can’t pull the trigger.
In case the title isn't clear this book is about a baby named Alicia dying.
I used to just not enjoy violence in movies (even magical violence) but now it makes me physically uncomfortable. I was so disgusted during almost all of the most recent Superman movie and more and more I can’t overlook destruction of a whole city (fictional or non) as merely the climactic battle scene. Logically I know it’s ridiculous but I can’t stop myself from feeling emotional about it.
I did however love historical war movies and watching people endure and I loved to admire how brave they were. Now I run through my head how much of a coward I think I would be/ would have been if I were faced with some of these dilemmas. How I’m just not sure that I could sacrifice myself or my family for something. How I’m not sure I could/ would have survived the losses.
I think part of it is age and part of it is the newness of having my own family and being protective of my little nest.
The problem is, I’m not ready to only read about sunshine (cancer) and butterflies (mass extinctions and global warming). I still do like to hear firsthand experiences of people who have endured and I still want to know what is going on in the world and I still want to be fun for my hubby and watch wizards battle robots (or whatever). My goal isn’t to shield myself from scary things but I need to figure out how to feel less scared of them personall
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