Fighting through Fear to Find My "Que Sera Sera"

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Fifteen minutes later he was home. He had dialed me accidentally, but I fussed anyway because I had imagined some gangster snatching his phone before I answered, and then I saw him on the ground, bleeding. It was not mother's intuition that had engulfed me but terror, and I wanted my son to know that terror. I wanted him to see it and be more careful, to not leave the house unnecessarily, to take no risks ever. I wanted him in a cocoon, an impossibility because my son is 21 years old.

That something could happen to either one of my children -- car accident, biking collision, gunshot wound to the head -- is not far-fetched. Asking them to stop living their lives so I can be fear-free, however, is. Attempting to control others when we feel we have no control is a common reaction to fear, but I have to do better. I must find more constructive ways to deal with possible futures over which I have no control.

My method is always to return to writing poetry and to write prose, as I am doing now. I use verbal art to process grief, loss, and fear the same way, perhaps, that Sly and Corrine use music. Still, sometimes I wish I could move to the woods, way out away from people, from danger and the potential for loss. Self-contemplation is beneficial, right?

And yet, too much isolation is rarely a good thing and is never effective insulation from loss. If you are human, you will lose someone at some point. Voluntary isolation is really the self-imposed loss of human connection, the illusion of dodging bullets.

It would be easy for a writer to choose isolation. But given where I've placed myself, home in the city of New Orleans, I cannot choose such a segregated life. And as much as they fool themselves, neither can those who flee the city for its suburbs. I will continue to seek ways to plug myself into the community, finding moments to help others more. In so doing, it's possible that I will be part of a solution, a conduit for progress and health.

I see that I must embrace the world and life, and learn through improving my community how to release the worry about possible futures over which I have no control. In this way, I practice a control -- self-control -- which benefits us all. Most of us can control how we relate to others if we choose to do so.

The future is not ours to see, but if we can see ourselves changing ourselves to cope better with life now, then perhaps we will find the courage to make a future better than the violent past.


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