Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Running Scared

by Tisha Timbang

2nd Speech (Organize Your Speech)
for Butter N Toast (Toastmasters International)
Delivered on 05 October 2006

It happened over 25 years ago. But the irony of it, amazes me to this day.

A lady named Aida shared me a story about a little girl who had been disabled in an accident. Her stomach churned as she thought of that ever happening to one of her four children. The more she imagined such a tragedy, the more fearful she became. Her effectiveness as a mother and teacher in a public school was put on hold once she started running scared.

Finally she gave in to her obsession. Making sure that her children are safe and protected, she began to build a house that is accident-free. Her husband built and fenced a play yard for her four children. He built it in such a way that it was impossible for children to get run by cars. She stood back and surveyed every possibility of danger to her children. The contractor returned and set the forms for that additional area. But before the cement could be poured, a heavy downpour of rain stopped the project.

If it had not rained that week, the renovation would have been completed and been fixed by that day. That was August 20, 1981…the day her eight-year-old daughter, Tisha, briskly walked with her thick wooden slippers and fell off the ground. To her shock, she had a bad fall and was immediately brought to the hospital for head surgery. The child wasn’t killed instantly. But she had to stay for about a month in the hospital to observe if there were major complications on her brain and nervous system.

Aida is my mom and I am that little girl. And here’s the mark. While I was innocent of that accident, my Mom learned that no matter how well she prepares, protects and keeps me from accidents, there are no absolute guarantees. There are no fail-safe plans and no completely risk-free arrangements.

If you want to know the shortest way to ineffectiveness, start running scared. Think about every possible danger, concern yourself with “what ifs” instead of “why nots?” Always, take no chances. Say no to courage and yes to caution. Expect the worst. Sophocles said “To him who is in fear, everything rustles.” Triple lock all doors. Keep yourself safe and do nothing.

While I was in Seoul, Korea, I remember asking a local. “My friend, the winter freezes me to death. How do I deal with this cold temperature? She rashly answered, Oh, just don’t go out of the house.”

On a Sunday service in church, I approached a crying lady. In my desire to reach out to her, I asked her how she was doing. For 10 minutes, I listened to her and counseled her. In that short incident, she had bouts of crying and laughing. Suddenly, she told me. “You know what I don’t like you.” I probed and asked her why. But she would not give a clear answer. Abruptly, she asked for a hug. Though I found it too strange, I hugged her. But I freaked out after a few minutes because she strangled me and shouted I hate you, Tisha! I hate you! I discovered later on, the lady is mentally ill. To reach out for another is to risk assault.

How thrilling is it to step out into the Red Sea like Moses and watch God part the waters? Guard your heart from overprotection! Life is not neat and clean. No one is exempted, not even the neurotics who go into extreme measures, are protected from their obsessive fears.

Running scared usually blows up in one’s face. When you fly, you risk crashing. When you drive, you risk colliding. When you run, you risk falling. When you walk, you risk stumbling. When you live, you risk something. Everyday, we are reminded that living and risking go hand in hand. Greatness awaits those who refuse to run scared. Have no fear.

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