Imagine a situation as devastating as killing someone that you love. I tend to live a very sheltered life. I also refrain from watching horror movies. Such thoughts like this are not common in my everyday experience. I found myself speechless amidst strangers as a young man told me his story. And it wasn’t just the story that made me tear up. It was the complete lack of emotion in his being as he rattled off the sequence of events as if he was reading a weather report. It was just three months ago that he got his parents (straight-laced, white-collar professionals) hooked on heroin.
Earlier in the year, my brother and sister-in-law made the bold but necessary decision to leave the hustle and bustle of Boston and seek a lifestyle that better matched their evolved values. This resulted in them putting in an offer on a house in Deer Isle, a place that I never heard of in an area of Maine that I had never visited. Truth be told I was excited for them but skeptical that it would be a place that I could call home.
“Put your oxygen mask on first before helping others.” This phrase is overused both in airplanes safety videos and in self-help books. It’s a simple yet important reminder that we are of no use to others if we’re unable to help ourselves. Unfortunately, despite understanding and agreeing with this philosophy, 2017 was the year that many of my closest family members (myself included) almost drown trying to save others.
Toes all pointed away from me.
Were they sprinting?
Invisible lines connected the different sizes
(stamped into the wet, coarse, cold sand),
which lost definition and proximity
with distance away from the place
where the waves’ hand gently stroked the sand
as the tide began to rise.
The situation? Rather than the person working with you to efficiently and effectively achieve the goal at hand, they resist (or all-out fight) you along the way, which requires you to expend 10 to 1000 times the effort. In short, instead of sprinting side by side to the finish line, you’re dragging them there.
Let’s face it, our brains are wired to label and stereotype because it’s a simple shortcut compared to approaching people without projections of who they are and what their interests are. We know this intellectually, and yet I find myself frequently surprised when I find examples that remind me to not assume.