I've learned some important lessons over the last two weeks. One of them is this: No matter how hard you try, you can't control for everything.
I say this, because I have a very dear friend who is really experiencing some hard times, due to the owners of the adjoining property having installed a natural gas well quite near to her property line. Here in Ohio, there is a tremendous natural gas field in the shale about 100 feet down. It's not easy to extract: they have to use a process called "fracking", which pumps a lot of water into the shale to let the gas out.
But the point of this is not about the gas extraction process; rather, it's about her reaction to it. It's been negative, to say the least, and with good cause. She's become an activist. She's undertaken an aggressive lobbying campaign at the state level, has written editorials and given interviews about the violation of property rights and some of the perceived dangers involved in this drilling process. All good, positive, absolutely understandable reactions to what really is an unfair situation. But she's also declared her home "uninhabitable", and has moved her family out, and is trying to sell it very quickly for what will undoubtedly be a fire sale price.
I'm not insensitive to her concerns. To be fair, there have been a small number of adverse events over the past several years associated with these gas wells, and there is a potential for some release of toxic run-off from these wells. That's a given. But she perceives the risk to her children as immediate and extreme. The stress she's created around this is ruining her health and will doubtless ruin all of them financially.
I want to take her by the hand and tell her that yes, there is clearly some risk involved in having these gas wells on the adjacent property. And yes, if she doesn't like it, she should work to sell her property. But there are risks in everything that we expose our kids to: driving in the car with us, going to school, eating food. And that, no matter how hard we try to keep our children safe from harm, at the end of the day, we may lose them to something immediate and completely outside our control.
I want to tell her to relax; of course she should work toward selling the house if she's uncomfortable, but that she needs to put her risks in perspective and not create more strife and upheaval than the situation warrants. They can live in the house. They can celebrate the holidays. They can still live their lives with joy.
I don't know; maybe my perspective is skewed right now. I think losing your child to a condition that is as common as being struck by lightning might do that to you. But I believe our lives are too short and too precious to waste days, or hours, or even minutes, to worry.
I love her a lot and I need to figure out how to help her find some peace.