You should have a fire safety plan. This important but arguably inconvenient piece of advice was drilled into our elementary school minds one day every year. A representative from the fire department would come down, show us a classic video complete with talking smoke detectors, and tell us how our family should have a plan for escape in the case of a house fire.
“We need. To have. A. Fire. Safety. Plan!” I would strictly inform my mother, terrified by the thought of my house erupting in flames and not having a orderly set of instructions to follow.
I was, and am, paranoid. About everything. I remember being ten and not allowing anyone to eat in the car - for fear they would choke. I remember not jumping off the swings on the playground because I was worried I would fall to my unfortunate doom. I remember making people promise me they wouldn’t do this, wouldn’t do that. Kind-of jokingly, but also kind-of not.
And you should be scared. There’s a lot of things out there that can hurt you or hurt someone else – and I don’t know, maybe I’m crazy – but worrying about them is just another form of being aware of them? Recognizing the existence of danger? Succumbing to, bowing down, worshipping the fear so it doesn’t break off and become reality…?
“Please don’t hurt me,” your paranoia whispers, thinking if we know to swim to the side in a riptide and not run with scissors and never text and drive or do flips on a trampoline and never laugh while we eat or poke a 400 pound black bear, we can avoid pain, avoid danger.
Is this just responsibility? Doing the safe and smart thing, and looking out for others, even if simply because you are pushed to do so by the fear of the “what if?” They never tell you responsibility comes with (or should come with?) fear. And in theory, the two shouldn’t be related. Doing the right, responsible thing should be possible without a motivation of the horrible things that might happen if you don’t. But in reality, it just makes logical sense that fear is the primary motivator in making responsible choices. In making good choices. The right choices. Because if you’re not scared of the outcome, it doesn’t seem to matter which path you take to get there.
But paranoia, fear, and even responsibility – it can be crippling. It can cause you to become caught up in the actions of others, forget about yourself, limit your ability to take risks, and worry and worry and worry. Don’t let it.
And with such a balance in mind, implement a little fear, a little paranoia, into your lives. Don’t get excessive. Live a little, but only so much that you don’t die. Stop, drop, and roll exists for a reason. A good reason. Inspired by the idea that burning alive sounds less fun than, well, not burning alive.
You’ll thank me.