The content of your character is your choice. Day by day, what you choose, what you think, and what you do is who you become.Heraclitis
Two nights ago, while I was sleeping, a thief snuck into my paradise. Blissfully unaware, I didn’t know that something had been taken from me until later that day. I woke up in the morning, went for a jog, got ready for work, downed 3 cups of coffee–just my normal routine. Until the time came to go out riding with the kids, an activity that usually gave a sense of normalcy in the world turned upside down, did I find out that something was missing. There, like the rope we tried desperately to hold onto that bound us to our past way of living, the cable holding my bike in the rack was cut. Severed. Mangled. And my bike was no where to be found.
The place I live, my paradise, is a quiet, sleepy town filled with friendly people. The natural beauty, the sun, sand, and surf, all promote a laid back lifestyle. Locals know each other and there is a sense of routine between the morning jog along the beach to the evening beer and bell ringing to observe the sun setting on another day in paradise. I’ve been here a couple of years, and until yesterday, I felt safe. I walked the streets in this half mile by two mile island haven with little thought of crime. Sure, there were a few tourists by day and many in the spring break season, but crime wasn’t really an issue. Now, a robbery, though minor, happened in a premeditated manner just a few feet from my door. Upsetting? Unsettling? Scary?
To tell you the truth, I’m not exactly sure how I feel about this all. Fear? Anger? Violation? As I wrote to my friends on social media when I talked about the incident yesterday, I am not sure I even know what those feel like anymore. I’m kind of numb. I’ve never partaken of recreational drugs; honestly, I have too much in my life to delve down a rabbit hole that has enticed people I care about into its dark depths and taken from them things they love and left them broken, but I hear about being “comfortably numb.” Is that the state where you have no cares? Just some “high” that supersedes all the worries, until the inevitable crash back into reality and the general suckiness that can be life? Then a ramp back up, chasing that moment in time of being carefree, to no avail, until some type of equilibrium of emotionless emptiness is reached? I think to myself that these past few weeks have become such a blur, filled with stress, anxiety, and fear, to such an extent a pounding wall of emotion that I am not sure I am capable of feeling any sort of shock anymore. Like the end of the rollercoaster ride, I feel spent. And I think, I didn’t even get the high.
When this all started, my mother warned me to be careful. That most people are cruel. Selfish. Self absorbed. That fear, scarcity, ignorance would just augment these traits. That I need to take care of myself and my loved ones, and understand that most people are not good. That their intentions are self centered and rarely, if ever, motivated by true care of others. My heart always says no when I hear these words. This isn’t the first time she has said this to me over the years. But like most children, I have ignored it. Looking for the good, the silver lining in it all, to find the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, I disagree and keep on my rose colored glasses. At times it becomes more a burden than a benefit in my life, and I wonder, is she right?
They say in times of crisis, true character is revealed. Life strips us bare. Our experiences hone those traits in us that we value, and our self is compressed into the few things that define us. Our choices, seemingly arbitrary at times, reveal what is at our core matrix. To be kind. To be cruel. To give. To take. And so today I think to myself, am I wrong in being who I am? As most of the world is paused, I find myself paused in the beliefs I have always held. The ones that drive my day-to-day existence, that give my life meaning and purpose. And I wonder how not only the world will change, but how I will change to adapt to it. How the lines in the sand I have drawn over the years that define my actions hold or sway as I find myself being asked to believe, accept and do things that I have always thought I would never do.