It’s more important to me to be safe, than to be happy. With safety comes happiness, of course, but I cannot strive for the heady, endorphins this brings without a safety net to fall back into.
Safety in authenticity. It’s what I need from myself and from others in order to know where to place my feet. To know how far I can teeter on the edge of the cliff, admiring the view, without plunging into the abyss. It’s the tendons attaching my muscles to my bones, and the nerve endings to my brain. The holistic glue that makes up who I am.
It’s not that I’m risk averse, quite the opposite. I push myself into foreign lands, real and imaginary, to feel something new, something that scares me, or just to feel anything at all. I don’t tread the well-beaten path walked by those before me because I can see the other options available. I have imagination. Sometimes I live within the terrifying crevasses of my mind without the need for the safety and restraint of the outside world. And I do so gladly, readily, and without regret.
No. Risk does not scare me. It invigorates me. Looking into my future and seeing uncertainty doesn’t fill me with horror, but optimism. So much time, so many opportunities.
But, we all need safety. We all need something to rely on, something to build our values and morals, and ourselves around. Not just for something to do, or because we feel like we should, but because we have no choice. It’s involuntary. And for me, this has to be authentic. Real. Congruent. Genuine. Call it what you will. I need actual bricks and mortar to build the foundations with which I walk through life.
I lived in a country plagued by earthquakes. Unexpectedly, without warning, the ground moved, buildings swayed, and nerves shattered. We huddled together under the shelter of a pub awning drinking beer and talking with merriness none of us felt, because we were scared. As the aftershocks wobbled our glasses we wondered if this would be the Big One. The one that would do the damage we were threatened with so menacingly.
I can’t live like this. I can’t live in fear that the shudder from a passing train will be the tectonic shift that derails me. I need to look into your eyes and see only the onyx pinholes of your pupils looking back at mine, not all of the things that you’re not saying.
Because it’s not safe.
I can give you a list of things that make me feel happy without hesitation, but ask me what makes me feel safe- truly safe, inside, a security that locks and keys, passwords and codes don’t come close to- and I’ll have nothing. I used to think it was a person. One person who could save me from all the dangers of the world, and from myself. I used to think this, until I fell, again and again, and their limbs proved inadequate to catch me. So now I must endeavour to do all I can to ensure that I land on my feet. Being my real self, maintaining an integrity to who I am, displaying my flaws and my failings as proudly as my strengths and my achievements, and asking, respectfully, that you do the same; that’s how I find the springs in my shoes. That’s how I stay safe.