We Are Never Safe

I’m walking through the Milano train station trying to find the ticket agent. Everything is normal. I have a plan, and everything is going according to that plan.

I look around and see people going about their business -- professionals, families, backpackers… I am aware of my surroundings, and nothing is out of the ordinary. There is nothing to worry about.

But in an instant my mind jumps: “What if the unthinkable happens? What if there is an attack? What if something happens to my train?”

Some people I see suddenly have new backstories: that man, the one who just put down his bag by the payphone, he is planning something... there is something in his bag… And he’s working with that man across the way, the one casually drinking his coffee…

I try to reign my thoughts back in, assuredly repeating, “Nothing is going to happen... Everything is going to be fine…”

Except I don’t know that.

Nobody knows that.

You just never know.

I can do all the research in the world. I can make smart decisions, choose “safer” destinations, dress modestly, drink moderately, pay attention… I can do my part, but still that won’t mean I will be safe.

We are never safe. Life is not safe. The world is not safe.

There is always risk -- whether I’m sleeping soundly at home in my bed, drinking coffee at Starbucks, or walking through a train station in Italy.

There is evil and brokenness all over this world, but there is also beauty and joy and peace.

We pretend we’re immortal and that we have all the time in the world, but our days are numbered. Not one of us knows that number, so I will continue to choose to pursue the beauty, to explore the joy, to seek out the peace, and do my best to never let the evil force me into hiding.

I plan to die a very old woman overflowing with endless stories of adventure, love, and learning; but if the unthinkable happens, if the day ever comes where my time is cut short, I will know that I have lived fully, taken risks, loved wholeheartedly, played hard, and explored deeply.  And when your time comes, I want you to know the same.