Saturday, October 25, 2014

i remember it like it were yesterday.

weeks before my friend and i were taking a team of girls with us to africa, a - let's call him a know it all - kindly let us know that we were going to die in malawi. if that statement wasn't bold enough on its own, he felt the need to write it in caps, and leave it as a comment on one of our blog posts for the whole internet world to see. [do that here and i will delete you] =)

now, the rational side of me could, and did, disregard this comment at the time, but i'd be lying to you if i said that it didn't stay in the back of my mind leading up to the trip.

so here we are, making our descent into the malawian airport and what pops into my head but this stupid comment. to make matters worse, it took the pilot a couple attempts to land, only to bring the plane back up, and down, and around and around before doing so successfully. i was going to die in malawi alright. on the runway.

we landed safely [thanks, captain obvious], but as i'd soon find out, the know it all's comment had its grip on me until i stepped foot back onto canadian soil weeks later.

my team and i spent a considerable amount of time at one of my favourite places in the world: the village of hope. this little community consists of about ten homes filled with beautiful orphans and their 'house mothers', who by the way, treated each child as if they were their own. beautiful, simply beautiful. any ways, we step into a small building on their property only to see a gigantic picture of a man's face hanging on the wall. soon after i find out that the very building that i was standing in was dedicated to this man because he was, get this, trampled by an elephant. naturally, thoughts start racing through my mind faster than i would run if there were an elephant chasing me. [which would have to be faster than 40 km/hour, i may add, and this girl wasn't going to zumba back then].

less than two weeks later, i faced my first wild elephant head on during a safari, and one too many after that.

our safari guide, george, or george of the jungle as i liked to call him, was an adrenaline junkie. not only did he like to get as close to the wild animals as possible, but he equally enjoyed hearing girls...okay, one girl in particular, scream. and that girl would be me, because, well, i was going to die in malawi. in the middle of nowhere by an animal that weighs a cazillion times more than i do after a delicious thanksgiving dinner.

so here we are, driving around what seemed to be a deserted park, and BOOM - out comes an elephant. it stops, turns towards us, blocks the road, and locked eyes on what could possibly be the biggest meal of his life. [i'm pretty sure i saw him licking his lips]. while i'm biting my sweater - hard - like hard enough to chew a hole in it, george of the jungle proudly announces that there's 'an elephant on the road' [looks like i'm not the only captain obvious here] as my team instagrams this gigantic road block and most likely my shredded sweater along with it. #myleaderisasissy #elephantonroad

the elephant, after winning the scariest staring contest of my life, turns around and continues on his way. and thankfully, we do, too.

i wish i could tell you that this was the last encounter i had with a creature far too huge for my liking, but it wasn't the case. i could sit here and recount each one to you, like the time our boat died in between a family of hippos, alligators, and elephants [the bermuda triangle has nothing on this malawi one], or the countless arguments a stressed out leader had with her team about the zoom feature on a camera being just as effective at capturing pictures of elephants than being up close and [too] personal is, but then you'd miss the point of this blog.

and my point is, fear can be crippling.

in light of the recent events in ottawa, the articles circulating the internet because of it, and the conversations i've had or overheard since, i think it's fair to say that fear is becoming more and more prevalent as time goes on; people, and maybe even you, are worried, on edge, and just plain scared.

i get it. admittedly, i had to talk myself out of the nonsense i was thinking as i traveled to work this week, and as i walked through busy malls and transit stations. but i refuse to let fear control my life like it did when i could have been instagramming sick pictures of elephants instead of chewing through my sweater and planning my own funeral.

but hear this, friends - fear, though it can have some truth to it, is often irrational.

i heard of one man dying of an elephant trampling - one! - and all of a sudden i thought thirteen of us were destined for the same thing. i see a surreal and devastating news clip about a guard getting shot, and i keep my eyes peeled for gunmen in my own backyard.

you see the same and don't let your kids out of your sight, or maybe hear about a life-altering disease going around and start washing your hands as if were about to 'scrub in' on an episode of grey's anatomy.

could any of the above situations happen? sadly, yes. many could. but are they going to happen? to me? to you? that i don't know. none of us do. but what i do know is that there's no sense worrying about things we can't control. be alert and wise, yes. but worry, no.

because really, we don't know what tomorrow holds or when our time on earth is up, and personally, i would much rather experience life to the full than to let fear rob me of what could have been a fascinating journey through an african safari, and an even more exciting one through life.

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