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The Only Thing We Have To Fear Is Fear Itself

Patrick McIvor | November 24, 2015 | 2:42 PM
Patrick McIvor and his family.
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As I write you this blog, I am sitting in an Airbnb in Paris with my wife and two daughters on the second of our 4-day visit to Paris, arriving just 9 days after Paris was attacked by terrorists.  This is the second time in my life I have had to make a choice because of a few people whose goal it is to scare the world, but the third time terrorism has touched aspects of my life.

As a native New Yorker, I remember the first World Trade Center bombing in 1993. I was working in and around New York, and my then girlfriend (now wife) Leah, was attending F.I.T. But, because the 1993 bombing did not do the catastrophic damage like 9/11, I like most people, went on living my life and continued working in New York City without fear.

On 9/10/2001, I was teaching at my buddy Vincent Perri’s Salon in Fort Meyers, Florida, and was scheduled to fly home that night, but because of severe weather our flight to Newark was delayed. We did not make it back to Newark airport until early morning on 9/11/2001, about 8 hours before Flight 93 would have left.  I can still remember Leah waking me that morning after the first plane crashed into the World Trade Center building and the horror I felt as I watched the second plane live on TV with the rest of the world.  As I sat there in horror, I was angry, sad and I must admit, afraid too.  Then, when Flight 93 crashed in Pennsylvania and it was announced that the flight had originated in Newark, this was starting to feel very personal. 

At that time in my life (like now) I flew constantly, but back then I flew exclusively out of Newark, and when I wasn't flying somewhere I was working in New York City, and these jerks had affected the lives of people from both of those places.  The other thought touching my mind was we had a brand new, not yet even 9 month old daughter, and I was scheduled to fly to Europe to launch a brand new haircolor line for Belgium hairdressers in France and was scheduled to leave on 9/18/2001.  I can still remember the call from the international director of education on 9/13 letting me know the company had cancelled everyone who was flying to Europe for different meeting, except the president of the company who was flying on a private jet, and asked me if I would still go, flying on a commercial airline, to launch the new haircolor line. I remember saying that I would go, but I needed to ask Leah first.  This was the first time I was a father and the first time I needed to make a choice that could affect more than just me.  Heck, at this point planes were not even flying domestically, never mind internationally.  As I sat with Leah, I explained that the only way I know I can fight terrorism is to not live in fear and put my butt on a plane, but with a young family if she wanted me to stay, I would.  I have always said Leah is the secret to our success, and though scared she agreed, and on 9/18/2001, after 5.5 hours to clear endless security checks, I flew to Europe joining my buddy, Peter Bokanowski, and flew on the second day planes were allowed to fly internationally.

I must admit, I was proud of that choice and did not think that I would have to make it so directly again until 11/13/2015 happened in Paris, just 7 days before our planned family trip to Europe. Ironically, the goal for our trip is to share with our daughters that being an American girl is not normal as compared to the way young ladies grow up in the rest of the world.  Our trip was planned to stop first in London, then Paris, Düsseldorf and finally Amsterdam where I wanted them to experience what it would have been like to be a Jewish teenage girl under Nazi occupation when they visit Anne Frank's house, a place I have visited 4 times. On 11/13/2015 again we watched in horror as a few jerks once again tried to change the world, and I could see my girls just 12 and 14 worry that this could happen to them.  We sat down to talk, and my youngest Claire asked if it could happen to us.  “Sure it could,” I answered, to which she replied, “Thanks a lot dad,” and I replied, “But it most likely it will not.”  We discussed how some people won't fly, though it is safer than driving, and the fact that you are more likely to be in an accident close to your home than any other place in the world.  And, I shared that the only way I know to fight terrorism is not to live in the fear they are trying to create.

I must say, not only have we had a great time in London, and now Paris, my girls are having the time of their lives.  As a hairdresser and educator, I can also share that most things that hold people back from having the life they want or doing the things they want to do is fear.  Whether it is trying a new technique, tool or traveling to take education, I have met so many people in my 30 years of hairdressing that have let fear hold them back.  So, no matter if it is leaving a bad situation, or going to a new one as JFK told us many years ago, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”  Once we realize this and stop fearing fear, we can become unstoppable. The reality is, most people who try to use fear, don't have any good ideas to offer themselves.  And as we head into the holiday seasons, remember there are good people out there everywhere, and just because they don't live like us or look like us, it doesn't mean that they might not just be another friendly hairdresser like you just trying to make the world a beautiful place.

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