Living Your Moments–Follow the Fearless Road

Written by

July 7, 2015

Soon, my family will be leaving for Prague, Budapest and Vienna.  I have been yearning to see this part of Europe for a long time.  To me, Prague and Budapest always sound like some “exotic” destinations as compared to the rest of Europe.  My husband and I have discussed many times about visiting the Christmas markets in this area but the cold weather always made us reluctant to go.

I don’t know about you, but I always feel anxious about flying.  I would sit, stiff and upright for almost the entire trip anywhere while my husband and son were sleeping peacefully.  Every episode of turbulence had me rolling my eyes, shaking my head, clenching my fists and swearing that it was the last time I would step foot on a plane.  I once told my husband, after some major turbulence on a trip to Asia, how I wished modern inventions would provide a way for us to escape from the plane, maybe a button we could push in case of emergency so we could eject ourselves out of the plane and escape from a fire, for example. 

“You should be thankful there’s no such invention,” my husband calmly told me. “The way you react, you would eject yourself prematurely out of a plane with any turbulence at all.  We would say ‘There goes Thu again’ every time you push that button.”

It’s always a joke, in my opinion, to rehearse the evacuation process at the beginning of each flight.  The flight attendant pulls the oxygen mask down from the ceiling, puts it on her face to show us how it works, telling us to put our mask on first before reaching out to help others sitting next to us.  She then shows us how to blow up our life saving float device as we get ready to exit the plane in an emergency.  The seats on many planes, as you know, can be used as lifesavers.

How many times have you heard of a plane crash where survivors were found floating around, hanging onto their seats?

The flight pamphlet on my flight to the medical mission in Costa Rica was even more hilarious.  There was a graphic picture of a smiling woman at the wide open emergency door, ready to jump off a plane.  She looked relaxed and happy.  It would have been a great commercial for Valium.  

After all, how many women would be smiling in a case of extreme emergency? Haven’t we women always been casted in the traditional roles of screamers in horror movies?

I love to travel.  By traveling to faraway lands, I learn how similar people from different parts of the world are.  A Russian patient was laughing loudly today when I told her how I heard people in Hungary always look so “sad,” probably from their hard life.

“Don’t believe that, Dr. Tran, I have been there many times.  They do not look sad.  They look culturally appropriate.  Not everybody in the world smiles widely like Americans.”  She stretched the corners of her lips with her hands into a big smile.

“In some parts of the world, people look and act more serious, but they are very nice as well.”

Unless you travel and experience how nice people are, you would think otherwise.  

Some of us are shying away from traveling beyond our state or our country this year for fear of terrorism.  We see images of the innocent tourists being shot on a Tunisian beach by their killer who emerged from the sea.  We heard NPR reporters interviewing terrorist experts on how July 4th would have been a perfect occasion for a terrorist attack, how the Washington mall provided the perfect medium for an attack.  How many of us ended up staying home after hearing this NPR interview and had a BBQ in our backyard instead?  How many of us woke up on July 5th wondering why we listened to NPR?

Fear can stop us from living.  Fear doesn’t necessarily save us from dying young by protecting us from some horrible accidents or terrorist attacks.  Fear can be mistaken for caution.  

There are certain activities I would not try out of fear.  I will never bunjee jump or sky dive for fear of heights.  I probably will never scuba dive for fear of depths.  Snorkeling satisfies me as I can see the fish and corals in even more brilliant colors.  I do not have a passion for those other activities, so it’s quite reasonable for me to let my fear for depths or heights take over.  It’s not really my fear that stops me from doing these “fun” activities that many of my friends and family members have enjoyed; it’s the lack of passion for the activities itself.  It’s not worth risking my life doing something I do not truly love.

Follow your passion.  Do not let fear chip away your essence.  We have such limited time.  I wouldn’t want to rock away in a nursing home wishing I had climbed Mt Everest but did not because of fear for an avalanche, swam in the deep ocean because of fear of sharks, sunbathed in Tunisia because of fear of another terrorist attack.

Do not let occasional turbulence prevent you from flying.  Just close your eyes when it happens, sing a song in your mind, or imagine ejecting yourself out of the turbulence by pushing the special button next to your seat.  Before you know it, you will be sailing on the Danube River or walking on a wine tour in some beautiful vineyards, realizing how silly you were for almost canceling your trip to Prague or Vienna or Budapest out of fear of turbulence, or a terrorist attack. 

Bon voyage to wherever you go to this summer.  Hope for good weather with no turbulence if you are on a plane, but do not fear.