Thursday, June 23, 2016

The See-Saw

I was walking to work this morning when I crossed a post that had a sign attached to it with one of those thick plastic quick-ties. The pointy end of the quick-tie was sticking out straight, right at eye level. I took a moment to slide the pointy end into the plastic strap so that the end wasn't sticking out.

"Hey, hey you!" came a voice. I turned around and noticed a guy sitting in his car. He had rolled down the passenger window and was leaning over. "Why are you doing that?"

Suprised, I replied, "Because I don't want someone to get their eye taken out by this pointy end."

He gave me a thumbs up, rolled his window back up, and said "Good man! Good man!"

This little exchanged suddenly reminded me of pivotal moment with my Dad. I was probably around 7 years old and my Dad had taken me to play in a public park. He pushed me on the swings, watch me come down on the slide, made sure I didn't fall off the monkey bars. We came to a see-saw and I sat at one end and said "Get on the other end Dad!"

Dad got that inquisitive look on his face, examined the see-saw carefully at the pivot point, and then placed himself at the other end. I stood up so that he could sit on it, but he said "No, no. Sit down and don't move."

He then placed his shoulder and hands under the wooden see-saw and with a sudden upward movement, snapped the plank in half with an unholy crack. I thought my Dad had gone crazy. I sat there with my mouth hanging open as he pulled the plank all the way over until it broke off, and then placed it on the pivot bar. "WHAT HAVE YOU DONE?!" I cried out.

"The see-saw was cracked in the middle," he explained, perfectly calm. "The next person who would have sat on it would have broken it and they might have hurt themselves. C'mon... let's go for ice cream."

That memory came flooding back to me this morning. I know Father's Day was just this past weekend, but... thanks Dad. I'm sure you had no idea how much that singular moment changed me and has influenced my life in so many ways ever since.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Comfort in Crisis

When facing crisis, there is some benefit to being reminded that "It's going to be okay."

Being reassured in the moment can give your mind and emotions just enough space to calm down, you can collect yourself, and come up with a plan to deal with the crisis at hand. Being told "It's going to be okay" is not meant to be a solution or an invitation to ignore the problem: it creates a port in the storm.

No one has the right to use your crisis to shame, humiliate, or abuse you under the guise of "Tough Love". Being told to "shut the fuck up", "get over it", "grow-up", "stop complaining", etc. is the opposite of helping. The person facing the crisis already knows what is at stake, and that knowledge can be so overwhelming that the person is either frozen in place or is actively fleeing. Any attempts at "tough love" just adds to the noise of the crisis and does nothing to help.

If you want to help out, show up. Don't yell out motivational slogans from the dock to help a drowning person. Jump in and keep that person afloat or toss them a rope and pull them in. It's messy, it's hard, and it's dangerous, make no mistake. 

But physically building a port in the storm is much more effective than yelling at the thunder.