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The silver lining

Earlier this year, I was struggling with anxiety. Stories in the news (which, because of my job, I cannot avoid) held so much horrifying, brutal violence. It seemed as if it was everywhere, and there was nothing I could do about it. And those who weren't perpetrating it were disagreeing--sometimes to the detriment of years-long friendships--about how to fix it. My blood pressure rose. I couldn't sleep. Mom and Dad encouraged me to see my doctor about it, and I went on a low (and, fortunately, effective) dose of anti-anxiety meds.

And then two things happened that didn't so much change my worldview as spin it around and stand it on its head.

The first was that my dad suddenly found himself in a terrible situation that he had absolutely no control over. The second was that hundreds of people from around the world came to my family's aid with a speed, intensity, tenacity, and generosity we could never have imagined.

You would think (or I would, at any rate) that what is happening to my dad right now would only increase my anxiety--that sense of helplessness and impending doom that took over my life a few months ago. But it has had the exact opposite effect--not because of the situation itself, but because of my father's reaction to it. He stared Death in the face and, with a calm acceptance a Buddhist monk would envy, said, "I forgive you." He realized there was one aspect of this he had control over: not whether he would die, but how. And he made the most courageous possible choice.

And so, as he has done all my life, he is teaching me by example. He is not telling me what I should and shouldn't worry about; he is SHOWING me. And his actions speak with a bell-like clarity that no amount of preaching or advice could muster.

When I look at the world now--this world that seemed so full of vitriol and violence with a disaster lurking around every corner--I am no longer afraid. Knowing I don't have control over those things I cannot change is no longer scary but empowering, because what I CAN control is how I feel about them, how I react to them, and how I help my fellow humans when those things happen to them. I can choose to follow the example set by my father and#TeamEric. I can choose to live my life in a way that would make my father proud.

And guess what? I don't need the meds anymore. It's just one of the many silver linings in this cloud.

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