Archived Opinion

Living in fear is no way to live at all

op fr“Many of us are not living our dreams because we are living in fear.” Not sure where I came across that line, but I pasted it into my folder for column ideas and then came across it last week when it suddenly seemed appropriate.

My daughter had just skyped us from the airport in Amman, Jordan. Amman is just a few hundred miles from where some of the most horrific violence in the Middle East is taking place. And there Megan was, smiling and laughing, on her way to Istanbul, Turkey, for a 10-day vacation from her teaching job in Dubai.

She relayed a somewhat remarkable story about the hospitality she had encountered during her 10-hour layover in Jordan. After departing the plane, an airline employee directed her and other passengers who were facing the long delay to a bus that would take them to a hotel. Megan figured she’d need the sleep to arrive fresh in Istanbul, so she decided to get a room. After resting, she went to check out and discovered the hotel was part of her ticket package. No charge, not for the room, the shuttle, or breakfast. 

As she relayed the story to us from about 6,000 miles away, sitting there smiling and waiting for the next leg of her journey, I couldn’t help but take some fatherly pride in how mature my 23-year-old daughter had become. Here she was traveling through the Middle East alone, making her way through cities most Americans will never see. This was big girl stuff, and she was managing it with a cool, level head.

Not that I don’t worry about her. Travel to exotic places entails a certain degree of risk, but seasoned travelers learn how to minimize the potential problems and revel in the adventure of meeting people, seeing things, going places, and learning about different cultures first-hand. From time immemorial, the act of traveling or taking a journey has always been one of life’s big adventures. Whether that trip is to a new city in the U.S., a remote wilderness area or a foreign capital, those who love travel love the rush of the way your senses come alive during the journey.

Today we live in a world that’s very dangerous, especially certain areas. So what’s new about that? I’d venture that travel to the cities my daughter is visiting were much more dangerous in the past than they are today. The difference is that now we are buzzed 24 hours a day by electronic information about killings and bombings and whatever horror of the day is making headlines. And so we live in fear and mark off a third of the world map as too dangerous to visit, a fourth of the world’s population as fanatical.

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Look, the words at the beginning of this column probably weren’t meant to describe traveling. Someone who wants to be a writer but is afraid to put their efforts out there for others to judge is also living in fear, as is anyone who is too timid to live their dream of being an artist, a teacher or a doctor. 

I don’t know about you, but I want my children to dream big and not be afraid to go for it. That’s the only way to live, or, as my first favorite philosopher Henry David Thoreau once wrote, “… and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.”

(Scott McLeod can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..)

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