Wednesday, 16 December 2015

Not used to anxiety

In the wake of the Paris shootings and other terrorist events, I've noticed an increased police presence on the subway during my daily commute. There have been three or four fire investigations on the subway, and the other morning I arrived at the station to find four more fire engines parked in front, lights spinning. The halls were filled with first responders, and I admit my first thought was, "What if this is just a decoy to distract the responders here while something bigger is happening elsewhere?"

I have always felt safe in Toronto. I've never felt threatened in any way, even if I'm alone in the city at night, even when cutting through a methadone lineup on my way to music lessons, even when lost on an unfamiliar bus. It just doesn't enter my radar to be nervous. It's a clean, secure, friendly city. So it's jarring to suddenly become aware of police presence, to realize my office is within a short walk to political and financial seats, to catch myself looking askance at my fellow passengers. I work just up the street from the U.S. Consulate, with its cement barricades. There are times I'm the only English speaker in my crowded train car (something I've always taken amusement from).

I don't like this new awareness or anxiety. I refuse to give in to it, when---for a while, I admit---I wanted to avoid the city and stay home. Life is what it is, and I am as likely to get hit by a bus during rush hour as I am by a bullet. All we can do is go through our daily lives, doing our best, being extra kind to each other, and making sure our hearts are in the right place.

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