Many of us believe that not expressing our fears will keep us safe from that which we fear most. Conversely, we think that silence will somehow make the fear go away. Nothing can be further from the truth. In fact, it's only through expressing our deepest fears that we have any chance of releasing them. As children, we were often told to "hush up" when we asked scary questions about such topics as illness and death. I grew up at a time when the word "cancer" was whispered. Asking if someone was going to die was as good as casting a spell on the person. In my Jewish home, such questions or comments resulted in knocking on wood accompanied by the phrase "don't give yourself [someone else] a 'kin ahurrra,'" which translates to the evil eye or wicked spell. For extra protection, one often added "poo poo" while knocking on wood for extra emphasis against those same evil spirits.
Modern day versions of "kin ahurra" abound People refuse to make a will in part because they don't want to bring death into their lives, that merely talking about death will hasten its arrival. Other people won't utter their hopes of everyone being healthy for an upcoming event because doing so might cause the opposite to happen. When in doubt, the best course of action is to be quiet. "Don't go there" becomes the motto by which to live.
This mode of thinking became most apparent to me after my son's car accident last month (see April 25, 2008 post). I was elated that Ethan walked away from the accident whole with only minor injuries. My gratitude arose out of the fact that I "went there," knowing how close he came to being seriously and permanently injured, or even the "d" word, dying. Had I not "gone there," I would have only felt anger that this happened to my son. Instead, by acknowledging the worst possible outcome, I was able to know and, more importantly, feel how blessed we were.
It was surprising to me how many well-intentioned people told me "not to go there" when I explained how mere inches separated Ethan from having a bright future or not. Some people would stop me mid-sentence and actually say "don't go there." I knew they were thinking what "there" was, but they felt they were being protective of me by not letting the worse scenario see the light of day. They were doing this out of caring and love, and I will be forever grateful for the sentiment and show of support. But I needed to "go there."
The truth is that we all need to "go there." Only by shining a light on our worst fears do we bring them to the forefront, confront them, and learn that we can cope and go on if they materialize. None of us want to die, but not making a will does not change the fact that our time will come. Hoping out loud that everyone is healthy for an upcoming event doesn't make anyone sick. Ironically, not facing our worst fears results in stress, which only exacerbates illness and impacts the outcome.
So, go ahead and risk the kin ahurra. Go there--your mental and physical well-being depends on it.