Thursday, October 20, 2011

The Illusion of Safety

I miss the ignorant bliss of my childhood.

I used to think my parents could save me from anything.  Nothing could hurt me as long as they were around.  A nightmare was forgotten by slipping under their bed covers.  The danger lurking in the alleyways of dark, secluded streets was chased away by clutching the hand that held you.

The other day I was walking down one of those streets alone when I realized that there is no such thing as real protection.  It doesn't matter who I'm with - my parents, my husband, my older brother - because life is unpredictable. Nothing can save you if it decides to suddenly throw you into a bad situation.

I think about walking down a similar street in the future, holding the hand of my own child.  They will put all their trust in me, as I did with my own parents.  And I wonder if I'll feel like a fraud, because they will honestly believe that they are safe with me, when all I can do is try my best to protect them.  And sometimes, in the worst of cases, your best is not enough.

Ultimately, the illusion of safety is more important for a child than harsh reality.  Some kids have lost the illusion too soon, and face harsh reality every day, but those are the unlucky ones.

As for us adults, we lost the illusion a long time ago.  Our eyes have been opened, the veil has been lifted.  We know what's out there now, so we compensate for our loss by purchasing alarm systems, taking self-defense classes, and being aware of our surroundings.  We can't think about it every moment of every day, or we'd go insane.  But on some nights, we get a reminder, and that's when we'll pick up the pace just to reach the "safety" of our home.