Monday, May 26, 2008

Realizations (life, pt. 2)

Truth is, most days, I'm a little hard on "us" (the human race, that is). We are so gifted, we have so much potential, and yet we tend to waste it away on things that really don't matter. We are born into an entire world of possibilities, and yet we often repeat the same experiences over and over again. We tend to create repeating patterns, oblivious to the good or bad of a situation, as if the ultimate comfort in life is ... predictability.

FACTOID: There are six "needs" that must be met before we can attain a feeling of personal fulfillment. The first of these is "certainty and comfort" [aka predictability]. {A. Robbins, 1996, "Personal Power Classic Day 6 - The Driving Force"}

In the case of a rescuer, the quest is not for "comfort", it is for existence; for life.

I started being a rescuer at a very young age. So many missions, I can't count them all. This caused me to look at every situation as potentially life-threatening, every large object as a potential obstacle, every small object as a potential tool, every door as a potential escape route. I taught myself to be constantly on guard, constantly vigilant, constantly ready.

And {admittedly} to think of every other person around me as someone who might need rescuing.

Chapter 1 - This most important lesson of being a rescue swimmer:
Be extremely careful when trying to help others, because panicked people aren't thinking straight. Their vise-like grip can become a death-trap for both of you. If you are fighting for your own life, you won't be able to help anyone else. Keeping a safe distance will allow you to help without becoming a victim yourself.

Q: How do rescuers treat people?
A: We keep them at arms length.

When faced with a dangerous situation, people can become so afraid that they will do anything to stay alive. Like a soul drowning in the ocean, they will reach out desperately for anything that will help them stay afloat ... if the "thing" that they grab onto, happens to be another person, they will unknowingly push the other person under the waves, in an attempt to save themselves.

I learned that lesson early, but I learned it too well.

The realization?
The big "a-ha"?

Well, here I am - out of the rescuing business (retired so to speak), and yet - stuck in the same pattern of keeping everyone at arms length, so I can survive to save them. But why would I continue to do this, even when the situation is no longer dangerous?

Because this constant state became a pattern in my life. It was "predictable", and therefore comfortable. If I kept people at arms length, I could safely rescue them. If I kept them at arms length, they were no longer a danger to me.

In most cases, I do not fear death or danger or circumstance.
In most cases, I do fear closeness to people.

So - while I tend to criticize "most people" for being stuck in patterns of predictability, I find now that I have been stuck in a very similar pattern. This pattern has kept me from experiencing closeness to (most) other people.

Why do I say most?
Because I have gotten close to some people.

When I look for commonalities in these people (trying to answer the question of "why I get close to some people, and not to others"), I can see a couple patterns:

(1) They are usually survivors - they have saved themselves.
(2) They are usually rescuers - they have saved others.

In other words, as a (past) rescuer, I tend to form bonds with other rescuers. This kinship is a mutual respect borne of overcoming hardship. It is the comfort that comes from knowing that "I won't have to rescue that person, and they won't have to rescue me either".


Appreciation (life, pt. 1)

Hello world.

How long has it been since I told you how much I appreciate all of this (including each and every one of you?) I think sometimes I let it go too long without saying.

We only get so many breaths in a life (on average, 567,648,000). Eventually, inevitably, one of these breaths will be our last. We never know exactly when, so before I take another one, I will use a few to express my gratitude.

I love this life. I love being human. I love other people. I love the person reading these words right now.

I love you all.