Friday night, Justin and I were at his Cub Scout den meeting. Standing outside, under the stars and taking turns looking at Jupiter through one father's extremely expensive telescope, the boys' conversation turned to space and planets. This then led to asteroids and cataclysmic events that could take place should large enough meteors ever strike the moon or Earth. This then led to Justin leaving that conversation with huge eyes and a crinkled forehead...
Justin - Mom, J said that if a meteor hit the moon, it would cause the Earth's gravity to change and we would all DIE!
Me - Ah, well... Meteors hit the moon and Earth all the time, but none have managed to disrupt the gravitational pull....
Justin - Yeah, but WHAT IF a meteor DID hit the moon?!? We'd die. We'd all die! (and on and on for a few minutes. Much concerned agony over the future of the Earth...)
Me - (interrupting his laments) Justin, is there anything you can do to stop a meteor from causing global catastrophes? Will your worrying and fretting over this make any difference?
Justin - No, but it scares me!
Me - I understand. If I allowed myself to think too much about the many ways Life as we know it could halt, I would never have time to think of anything else! Life is short. Life is beautiful. Life is too fragile and precious to waste by worrying about things you cannot change. All we can do is take the precautions we CAN and enjoy each day. Instead of worrying about the moon exploding or the Sun going Nova, think about how lucky you are to be outside on a beautiful night with your friends, looking at Jupiter and counting its moons.
It's hard. As they grow, their awareness grows. Fearless jumps from the top of the jungle gym are replaced by cautious steps away from the edge. Second guessing the safety of a roller coaster becomes stronger than the desire for speed and adrenaline. I don't want my kids to be reckless and wild, but the thought of them living life in fear of everything scares the living daylights out of me!
All I can do is encourage their curiosity. Remind them that a life lived in fear isn't a life truly lived...