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> What if you were mugged?

Walking down a dark alley, alone, at night and not having a sense of situational awareness. I was nearly mugged because of that, and now have a much greater sense of situational awareness.

I know, I know, blaming the victim is bad, but sometimes clearly assessing what led you to be in a certain type of situation can help you avoid those types of situations in the future.

This actually happened to me in 1991: I was a few months from defending my Ph.D. so I was already under a lot of stress. I came home from work after dark to an empty house and saw that the light we kept on a timer wasn't on (it turned out later that the bulb had burned out). I entered the house and caught some movement out of the corner of my eye. I shouted, and the burglar who was on his way out the window took a pot shot at me with a 038. The bullet missed me by about a foot. I had nightmares about strangers in the house for years. None of that was my fault.

There is an epilogue to the story: after the incident I crawled to the phone and called 911. The police arrived a few minutes later, and a few minutes after that told me that they had caught the perpetrator. The put me in the back of a police car and drove me out to where they had a hispanic kid, maybe 15 years old, sitting on the curb in handcuffs. They asked me if I could identify him and I said no, it was dark, I couldn't see anything but a muzzle flash. So they let him go. I have no idea if I let an armed robber back out on to the street, but I've never lost a minute of sleep over that decision.

You own your actions, not your feelings.

Well not really in this case. This is still trying to align sense and structure to an otherwise random event. Suppose you got mugged with your partner on a lightly populated main Street in the evening by a stranger with a gun, as happened to my partner and I; what is the takeaway there? Muggings, like many other situations we imagine, tend not to happen as we've seen it in movies and tv but more so when we least expect it.

A lot about owning a situation is allowing yourself to do what feels right, not creating a plan for every contingency and situation. Muggings happen and they're very unfortunate and bad. But owning it well isn't as much about future prevention as it is trying to make sure that you still can have control over yourself afterwards. Sometimes things happen; why did some guy key my beat up old 95 Accord and not the dozens of other cars? Probably alcohol, but the point is less about the specific reason and more what you do in response and how you are able to gain control and feel comfortable.

cancer ?

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