“It is said that a picture can say a thousand words. Well, so can a thousand words. They are the keys by which we can unlock new and amazing worlds, some of which ascend beyond the imagination, and it all begins on the first page.” – BookNerd
Greetings Fellow BookNerds,
It feels like a lifetime since my last post, even though it was just a couple weeks ago. I’ve been kept busy with my Nanowrimo story, which sadly I am very far behind on, but even if I don’t make it to the 50,000 word mark, at least I can proudly say that I devoted time to working on it every single day, and that’s a victory in and of itself. I was considering setting my blogging aside for the rest of the month to avoid too many distractions, but in light of recent events, I convinced myself that it was okay to devote some time to my followers and anyone else who may stumble upon my blog.
I have always wanted to travel, but due to money constraints and lack of time, I still have yet to set foot outside of Canada. Fortunately, living in Ottawa for five years has allowed me the opportunity to experience a worlds worth of cultures without having to leave the city, for which I am extremely grateful. Of course, I would still like to one day fulfill my dream of travelling the world, but sadly I have to admit that I am being rooted to the ground where I presently stand by fear, a fear which is slowly encroaching on us all.
Having grown up in a neighbourhood where you had to drive in pitch blackness at night because there were almost no streetlights to guide you along, where the neighbours dogs roamed free and you didn’t always know if they were friendly, where most nights you’re lulled to sleep by the sound of a pack of howling coyotes on the hunt just outside your house, and the house itself has aged to a point where it sounds like a haunted house, let’s just say that it takes quite a bit to get me quaking in my boots. In fact, it used to be that the only thing I was truly scared of was ventriloquist dummies, a fear which regrettably sticks with me to this day. I don’t know what exactly it is about them, but the very sight makes me want to dart behind the nearest rock. But I digress.
As we grow older, many of our childhood fears stay with us, but the way in which we perceive them changes. For example, our childhood fear of spiders was based purely on how they looked. I mean, eight hairy legs and a pair of fangs can be quite terrifying for someone who is still trying to figure out the difference between a circle and a square. As we get older, our curious minds seeking out information about every little thing, our fear of spiders then becomes a fear based on our knowledge of them and what these tiny arachnids are capable of. In other words, our fears never truly disappear, but simply evolve, sometimes to a point where we are no longer bothered by that fear.
The key point in all of that is knowledge. The more we understand something, the less we are controlled by our fear of it, and that can be applied to just about anything. I used to be terrified at the thought of driving a car, but that was only because I didn’t know how to. Once I practiced and got my license, I couldn’t believe that I had ever been scared of something so simple as driving! I felt the same way before starting my first year of university. All I knew about it going in was what my high school teachers had told me, which was essentially that no matter what, my grades were going to drop down from what I was used to getting, and what my friends who had been to university already told me, which was more or less the same thing. But that thought alone made me terrified, and that’s because I was basing the next four years of my life on what little I knew about the whole experience, and the added fear of living on my own for the first time didn’t help either. Four years later, and I can say with confidence that university was one of the greatest adventures of my life, and part of the reason for that was because I didn’t let the fear of my preconceived notions get the better of me.
The same logic can be applied to people. I’ve always been a bit of a socially awkward individual, never quite getting a firm grasp on the norms of social interaction… in other words, I had difficulty making friends. Not an uncommon problem, I know, but the situation is different for every person. For me, I grew up in a very different environment from most of the people I met. It’s not easy to join discussions about current pop culture when you live out in the boonies where there are more farm animals than people, and your television only gets about 3 channels, maybe 4 on a good day. Don’t get me wrong, I love where I grew up, and I wouldn’t change that way of life for the world, but it did make things challenging for me at times, namely making friends. Oddly enough, things became a lot easier when I got into reading books. It finally had a common interest I could share, but not only that, they changed the way I saw the world.
It’s the power of knowledge. Whether fictional or not, books have a way of opening our eyes to things we didn’t even know were there, educating us through the experiences of others as they journey into the unknown. In books, the protagonist is put into situations where they have to face their fears in order to become stronger, whether it’s to help themselves or those they care about. My favourite part was when the hero rallied the people together to face off against a common enemy, so that they may conquer their fears as well and finally live in peace. Of course, stories are different than reality, but one thing they both have in common is that fear can be our greatest enemy, but also our greatest motivator.
So when I hear people lashing out at someone, not because of something they themselves did, but because of what others have done, I can’t help but feel a stab of pain in my heart knowing that those people have become victims of their own fear. When we let it, fear can manipulate us, twisting our thoughts into ugly, misshapen ideas capable of tugging on our emotions, making us feel a certain way about something that we never would have before. It’s a poison to the mind, and it can cripple us emotionally and physically if we give into it for too long. Worst of all, it can turn us into the kind of person we never wanted to be.
When I read the news story about a woman standing in line at a grocery store was afraid that a Muslim woman, who was standing in the same line as her, might try to harm her in some way, I wanted to cry. In the aftermath of what happened in Paris, I don’t blame people for being scared. We hear about horrible stuff like this happening on the news almost every day, but we never think that it can happen to us… until it finally does. We can’t always make sense of it, when our world is turned on its head so suddenly, and we instinctively want something or someone to put the blame on in our need to find meaning in it all. I’m not about to tell anyone to stop being angry, sad or scared, because that would be asking the impossible. However, the moment people use their fear as an excuse to push their hatred and anger on those who did nothing to deserve it, that’s where I draw the line.
Humanity has grown and changed so much, and to think that such archaic sentiments like racism, bigotry and prejudice still exist is disheartening, and fear is only going to make these feelings grow stronger in people. It’s the side effect of uncertainty, which is directly linked to a lack of knowledge and understanding. Of course, knowing more about something won’t necessarily extinguish our fear completely, but it can help us to better understand the root cause of our fear, instead of letting our fear control what we see and how we see it.
I would like to end this post by sending my love and best wishes to those who were affected by the attacks in Paris, and I hope that in the face of such uncertainty and devastation, that you are able to stand together and find hope amidst the fear. I hope that the video posted below will remind everyone that the actions of a few do not define a people as a whole, and that we must look beyond a person’s exterior to see what is truly in their hearts.