My alarm went off at 6:45am. It was my morning call to get up, hit the gym, and get off to a good start to a new week.
But within 2 minutes of opening my phone, all of that changed.
“Las Vegas” was trending on Twitter.
I clicked through to the story, and watched the videos of people lying motionless in the arms of their loved ones.
Instantly, I felt completely defeated.
It was an emotional smoothie comprised of anger, sadness, and fear. The kind you want to throw up on first taste.
I was so angry that someone could do this. Take the lives of others who had no part of their world.
I was so sad for those who had fallen victim to such cowardry, and their friends & family who would now have to remember this day for their rest of their lives.
And lastly, I felt worried. Worried about the thought that this could happen to me or my family/friends – at any time, and any place.
So I hit dismiss on my alarm, and put away my phone.
I no longer had any interest in taking on the day. Nothing was important enough for me to want to get up.
It’s now a few weeks later, and I’ve had some time to let emotions settle and reflect on how I feel.
Instead of getting into another debate about gun control, I wanted to bring attention to something that isn’t really getting talked about: the effect that this emotional turmoil is having on people.
The dark power of random acts of violence against innocent people stretches far beyond those who fall victim – it affects all who fall witness.
Hundreds of million of people across North America and the rest of the world experienced the same emotions that I did above.
A large percentage of those people (myself included) are now subconsciously becoming conditioned to think twice about attending a public event or venue.
This nervousness is the default – and it’s ingredient to living a life of fear and misery.
I’m now nervous to visit a beautiful city like Paris or Barcelona, I’m nervous to visit a shopping center in downtown Toronto, I’m nervous for my girlfriend to go to a Halsey concert on a Wednesday night, and I was nervous to use the subway London last month (where a bomb did infact go off later that week, only re-enforcing the issue).
What kind of effect is this having on our lives?
I don’t know about you, but I hate that. I hate shriveling up into a shell because of the acts of a few certain individuals.
I’m willing to try to convince my mind otherwise.
So what can we do?
It’s easy to feel powerless in this situation – as we should. The acts of others are largely beyond our control.
But maybe that is exactly what hints us to the first step of overcoming the fear: accepting that how & when we die isn’t completely in our control.
Your house may suddenly collapse. Someone might fall asleep at the wheel. You might get struck [twice] by lightning. Who knows.
In the same way that it was scientifically extraordinarily lucky for us to be born on this planet, it is possible to be unlucky for when we are forced to leave it.
I know this sounds cynical, but it’s the truth. And the sooner we can accept it, the less time we spending hiding from it.
However, I feel like there is more to the equation…
Would you die happy?
If today we would not die happy, then it only makes sense that we will still live in fear. We are not ready to die yet.
Regret and ‘realizing your potential’ and play an important role in this.
An aspiring musician who worked a white-collar job their whole life would not die happy.
A father of two who had just punted the first few years of his children’s lives in order to climb the ranks would not die happy.
An adventurer who told herself she would travel when she’s ‘settled’ would not die happy.
Does that mean we need to set aside our long-term goals and live for the moment?
No. I don’t think you need to have accomplished all of your goals to die happy – mostly because there is no person on this planet who doesn’t have any goals left.
It’s more about being in the process.
If you are in the process of accomplishing your dreams, then there is not much room for regret.
That’s what brings ultimate peace.
Not Losing Sight of It All
It’s equally important to remember, while the media doesn’t make it feel this way, there has never been a better time to be alive.
More people have access to clean water than ever before, life expectancy has doubled in the last 100 years, extreme poverty is on its way to becoming extinct, and this is the most peaceful era humans have ever lived through.
This isn’t just feel-good talk. There are fancy charts to back it up.
In a world of 7.5 billion people, there will always be some who don’t feel heard or understood.
Don’t let their unfortunate actions undermine the 99.9% of all that is good.
We need to try our best to love one another. Share our stories and listen to those who want to be heard.
And hey, if sh*t happens, sh*t happens.
The least we can do is try go out with a smile.
*I’ll be sharing more insights like this, along with my journey into the world of entrepreneurship. Want to follow along for the ride? Just leave your email in the box below!