Monday, December 17, 2012

Holes in Hulls, & Heeling to Heal

Gun control is the topic of everyone else’s day.  Let me point to the families of those who we all lost on Friday.   27 families woke up on Saturday morning with one less person in their homes.  20 children’s beds were found empty, still made up from Friday morning’s post breakfast cleanup by mom’s and dad’s trying to keep things neat and organized through the busy season.  7 other families woke up knowing that someone was not in bed either beside them or in their first true homes away from home.

There is no balm for this hurt.  There is no plug for the hole.  I know that feeling, I hold it every day.  The best description I can muster is to envision ourselves as ships going through the stormy seas of life.  We are like a convoy of ships trying to get ourselves across oceans for a little respite in ports of call before once again plying the waves on our never ending sea voyage.  And then one of our boats is sunk, whether by storm, or torpedo, or just unfortunate design, and we the remaining boats in the convoy are left damaged from the loss.  We now have holes below our water lines, and we are taking on water.

Sometimes the water flows in through those holes at rates so fast that we can envision going down like Titanic under the weight and tumult of the water and waves respectively.  But then we learn that if we turn away from the hole, and pick up speed, the hole lifts out of the water, and we get a moment or two in which to dry out below decks.  The bilge pumps are always churning in our lives because our boats are hand crafted and muddled together from all the bits and pieces of our lives, and so they leak.  The leak is sometimes slow, and sometimes like water through a sieve, but our pumps do not stop in a constant effort to keep us afloat.    

And as the pumps work, and we turn in ever faster circles to heel the hole out of the water we find that we go nowhere for a while.  Who knows how big the hole is? Who knows what patching materials are available? Who will lend us a carpenter to shore up the damage?  Whatever the delays to repair, eventually we will try again to continue our journey with a little less understanding of the proper shape for our new convoy, because we never travel alone.  And we will once again be hit by rogue waves or sudden squalls, and will once again find the leak unbearable, be unable to continue forward and only by running in circles will we gain the time for repair.

And repair we must.  The world must know about the sunken vessel we left behind, the world needs to incorporate the knowledge of our loss so that it does not happen again to some other ship in some other convoy.  But no matter the cause of the hole in our hull, whether a chronic problem of rust or running aground on a coral reef, we are still afloat.  The boat that represents our loved ones do not float anymore, they litter the seabed screaming for us to continue our journey to share the tale of their loss that others might take heed and do something beyond just talking about what might have been.

A Canadian friend of mine would tell me, “If ‘if’s’and ‘but’s’ were candy and nuts, we’d all be happy children” I cannot tell you why children die, I cannot tell you they have to die; but I can tell you that they do die.  And when they die, the devastation in the wake of their loss is mind numbing to its size and wicked nature of the barbs left behind that seem to just rip out flesh upon contact.  And yet the simple view on what could/should have been done is like looking into that bowl of Christmas treats.

If only no one had guns? If only there was less denial? ( If only we had better community mental health centers or standards?  If the sickest children were all treated as patients and not experiments? If only God had done something? But it wasn’t my responsibility. If not yours, then who’s?

I should be careful here, not more than an hour ago, I challenged a friend with a similar vein of thought, in that identifying the problem is only half the battle, defining and prioritizing a solution and then implementing in such a way as to cut through the waves of opposition is the tougher side of the argument.

First things first.  Life is not a spectator sport.  I thought that I had missed out on so much over the past five years of caring for Evan.  What I missed were the mind numbing pieces of a life driven by entertainment rather than those pieces that equated actually living.  I have a friend who at 20 years old is the antithesis of David Lanza, and yet he keeps to himself because he can barely tolerate the lack of substance in the goals and interests of his generation.  He doesn’t even have a cell phone.  His idea of a good time is to go hiking in the woods with his dad.  He works hard at his job, works harder at school (academics are not his strong suite), and lives life to the fullest in the moment.  Carpe Diem!

Secondly, life is not a journey we take alone.  While it is essential that we strengthen the family bond of instruction between parent and child, denial of freedom in pursuit of security and safety is a blind and fruitless quest.  Communication and the requisite skills associated with this term should be the forefront and backbone of all parent child relationships; because when we do get into real-world situations, being able to look someone else in the eye is not a matter of defiance or arrogance when trained correctly, but they are a sign of intrigue and respect.

I have read somewhere recently that there is a thought that altruism is an ancestral trait as determined by anthropologists.  BS flag on that one.  There is work within subsets of humanity to establish a greater hegemony over other groups.  The final step in a solution driven world is to seek to make the person next to you look better, to achieve more, to be happier or better off for having known you.  The person next to you should never be objectified in some manner to make them a stepping stool for your rise to the next rung on your ladder.  They are there to be given a boost by you, a leg up, and life ring receiver so that they might succeed more quickly for having known you than if they had not.  But for that to happen you must walk in the world with your eyes open not to the opportunities that are there just for you, but the opportunities for others that they might not see.

And so my three step approach to getting better, to fill the holes beneath the water line is three steps true:  1. Get in the game  2. Communicate with your teammates  3. Make the players around you better.

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