I recently met with a group of doctors who gather at Dr. Rachel Naomi Remen’s house monthly to discuss a variety of topics and seek meaning in medicine and in the human experience. The topic of the month was “Safety,” our quest for it, our desire for it and, as we discovered, our complete inability to attain it, given the certainty of uncertainty.
It got me thinking about how many years I spent striving to feel safe. It’s not like I grew up unsafe and spent the rest of my life seeking it. My childhood was full of white picket fences and loving parents and bike-riding in the middle of the barricaded street at neighborhood block parties. I was rarely sick, never abused, and nurtured like an object of precious affection. With the exception of seventh grade, mean girls, premenstrual acne, and the inevitable heartbreak of unrequited crushes, my young life was as safe as they come.
Yet I sought even more safety, perhaps to fend off the imaginary demons that might threaten such safety. When you have so much to lose, life automatically feels unsafe. Somehow, you know it could all be taken from you in a blink.