Monday, September 5, 2016

Surviving a Terror Attack in Munich, Germany

"Marcus, did you hear, there was just a mass shooting here in Munich, not far from here."
"Yes, I just got the news alert on my phone," he answers calmly.
It's my last night in Munich, and I've offered to take my gracious host and his lovely wife Sissi to dinner. She's trying her best to project an air of calm.
"Should we go?"
"Yes," replies Marcus, buttoning his shirt, "almost ready."
I smile reassuringly at Sissi as we walk out the door. Our walk to the restaurant is fairly casually. Marcus proudly announces his name when asked if we have a reservation.
The interior is elegant and darker than normal in a calming manner. Outside we can see the many trees of the English Garden. We decide to take a table on the patio, where we sit looking over the menu for several minutes. A waiter approaches and politely, but urgently asks us if we could move inside.
"Has something happened?" asks Marcus.
"There has been a second attack and we need to take precautions. We ask everyone to dine inside as we're locking all the doors," explains the waiter.
"I guess they will happen all over the city," Marcus states flatly as we follow the waiter, "looks like a coordinated attack."

Sissi seems flustered. The reputation of Germanic stiffness and stoicism however holds true: Sissi is Austrian.
I too feel a heightened sense of energy, undoubtably the added adrenaline flowing through my body from the perceived threat. Wanting to be prepared I gaze at the layout the establishment and hatch an escape plan.
"If someone comes in guns blazing, we go through the window there, and race into the forest," I announce.
But honestly, the debate is not what to do if, it's whether to stay in this public location.
"Is it safe to go home?" asks Sissi.
"Probably not right now," answers Marcus.
"I want to go somewhere safer," she says shaking a little. We head inside the kitchen to the surprise of the staff. We stand there discussing the situation for at least ten minutes.
Sissi, me, Marcus
Sissi: "It's unsafe out there."
Marcus: "Perhaps so."
Sissi: "Maybe we should go home."
Me: "Sissi, it's natural to be scared. I'm not going to tell you I don't feel something right now--"
Sissi: "-- They're all over the city. Maybe we should just stay here in the kitchen."
Marcus: "Look, we can step out into the road, walk briskly, and in 5 minutes we'll be home. We lock the doors, and stay in until the authorities give the all clear."

This is a man who survived a three week coma due to organ failure, who had doctors tell his wife he had a 2% chance of making it through the night, who had his toes cut-off as the unnamed intelligence within simply didn't distribute oxygen and blood to these extremities in order to keep the rest of the body barely functioning, and now must wear special shoes and orthotics to walk around, who took over two years, much of it in a wheel chair, of rehab which continues today, to make it back to the workforce. He's looked up close at the face of death, and overcome a great deal to get to the point of being functional again. He's by no means afraid, just trying to comfort and do whats best for his wife, who bravely and lovingly stuck with him during his "downtime." Their relationship is an inspiration.
Sissi nods in approval at the plan. I feel as though I must interject.
"Look, there's no doubt we'll make it home if we leave. The odds, even with multiple attacks around us of being hit right now are extremely low. But, if we succumb to our fears, then we are terrorized. Then those fuckheads in Daesh win."
It takes several minutes to convince Sissi, a process of pacing and leading the fear, before we emerge and re-enter the restaurant and place our dinner order with our good natured waitress.

And through our lengthy dinner, the topic barely arose. We just enjoyed ourselves, in the moment as much as possible. After a thoroughly enjoyable bottle of wine and meal, I paid the bill, and we walked home in a state of calm and peace.
thanks for giving Allah a break for the day assholes

It turns out that the report of the second attack was a false, and the first one turned out not to be immediately linked with Daesh; nice to give Allah a break for the day, right?
Even though it's natural to feel fear, disengaging from it momentarily as it churns through the mind makes for an excellent growth opportunity. Consciously examine why it is manifesting, whether it's rational, and then take action to confront it head-on if it's not. Whether that be skydiving, approaching a person you like, climbing sheer rock faces, or sitting through a dinner under the belief that your large city may be under terrorist attack.
Each time you take on one of these challenges/ fears you're exercising a muscle you can use for similar situations in the future. Suddenly things you would have been scared to try/take-on seem much more feasible. Embrace the fear, decide if it's rational, and adjust your actions accordingly.

Oh, and as we walked home, I realized that I was 110 Euros lighter in the pocket, so I guess it's not all rosy. Overcoming fear apparently does come at a price.

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