I think having proper motivation and honesty are the keys to overcoming those kinds of fear and anxiety. Motivation is the antidote… to fear and anxiety.” “- The Dalai Lama, The Art of Happiness

"Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to… suffering.” - Yoda, centuries old “great warrior” of the Star Wars universe

I come out of a particularly pleasant REM sequence about giving money to charity and kissing my boyfriend to read this headline, midst sips of coffee black and petulant squeezes on my arm from my younger sister:

Brazilian police: Drug lord kills journalist

Aghast, I continued to read the story: Tim Lopes of Brazil’s El Globo Television was captured and ritually slaughtered June 2 while he was trying to do a little ‘investigative’ reporting of the increasing gang scene and ‘fiefdom’ land-owning practices employed by the drug lords of Rio de Janeiro. His body was found yesterday, charred and black, alongside a few stills of film (the police admit that it may not be him, but DNA evidence will solve the mystery, or so they say.) I wonder, would this be reported if the victim was a 13 year old girl instead of a renowned old guy?

In a tiny but sensationalist font, there is also an aside about dengue fever, the mosquito-driven epidemic that the World Health Organization says is experiencing a resurgence among tourists and locals alike of Brazil. People are advised to ‘avoid travelling’.

I get up and pour the rest of the coffee out in the sink. A glance to the counter- the plane ticket rests, inviting and plain. I pick it up and look at it with a renewed fervor, praying to deity that maybe the dates and place have been changed. Maybe I misunderstood my mother and am going to the Swiss Alps instead of anywhere in the southern hemisphere. Surely the heavy jackets are for Europe and not a tropical winter? No. Still the same- Rio de Janeiro, June 17 to June 26. Next week. I shudder to think.

I ignore the annoying popular "Voices in My Head" shirts that my fellow American Hot-Topic purveying youth seem to enjoy wearing as they flaunt their depression medication, but the fact remains that there are different personalities that we employ. If America is a melting pot of people, I am a melting pot of emotions- an internal, unceasing argument that has tainted my dreams with conflict and self-doubt.

Breathe in.


Breathe in.

Motivation. Think like a Buddhist. Think of the good things that will come of this. You will get to see your grandmother.

I also get to leave my boyfriend, the man I have not seen in weeks and probably will get to see little of all summer. I will die of dengue fever in the remote wildenerness and go to Hell for my unerrant Agnosticism.

So what if I get to see my grandmother? She'll hate me. She'll think I'm a geek just like my stepparent's family does. She'll grab the books out of my hand and tell me to face reality. She'll look the other way when the gang members kidnap me to be the virgin sacrifice in their Occult rituals.

Don't be ridiculous. Think like Yoda. Fear leads to anger. You cannot be angry, you know not of what other people feel. You can only control yourself. The space within your own skin- it may seem tiny and insignificant compared to the rest of the universe, but think of the control implied! If you apply yourself, you can have a perfect understanding of your actions. Your thoughts. Your mind. Your experience- for you are the ultimate master of your own.

I listen to the Voice of Reason. I will look forward to looking into my grandmother's eyes- the delightful, rich blend of hazel, emerald, and gold that I see blurry in the mirror every morning. I will delight in her voice- accented with the beautiful languages of Portuguese and Spanish, a treasure compared to my own uncouth Southern voice. To see her in her home- not in Florida, where my great grandmother came by raft, where my grandmother in her visits shifts uncomfortably in the orange floral slipcovers and gapes with disdain at the decadence and environmental discord witnessed at a trip to Disney World. To see where my father would have spent his childhood, had he not been kidnapped by my grandfather so many years ago. Perhaps I will live his childhood vicariously for him when I return.

Motivation is the perfect antidote to fear.