Be The Life Raft
We all know there’s a lot going on. But, whatever happens, we WILL be ok. We will. It may take a while to get there and I can pretty much guarantee it won't look like you think but we will get through this season, this year, this election cycle...
Don't get me wrong, I am not saying it's going to be smooth. More likely, parts are going to suck, or continue to suck, and there will likely be casualties along the way but in the end, We Will Be Ok.
The truth is "you are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem and smarter than you think." (Winnie the Pooh) He’s a seriously wise bear and really should have a podcast, don’t you think?
Here's the thing, during turbulent times we can be forced to choose between panic or peace. Where possible, choose peace and choose to be a life raft for those who need one.
Years ago, while still in college, I was selected for a study abroad program in England over an extended winter break. I left Miami the day before my birthday and took off for what I knew was going to be a grand adventure! About an hour into the flight, after everyone had settled in for the long flight, there was a thundering boom and the plane lurched violently. The cabin began to fill with thick black smoke, oxygen masks dropped down and it felt like we were in a free fall, nose first!
Since it was an overnight flight, most people were already asleep, so it took a minute for them to realize something was VERY wrong and begin to panic. The flight attendants did their best to keep people calm but since they were strapped in like the rest of us, there really wasn't much they could do. One man though, mercifully seated right in front of me, began to tell anyone who’d listen, that we were going to be ok. He said he was a pilot, and the standard procedure was to drop altitude as quickly as possible, to a point where the plane could be ventilated, and the smoke could get out. After that we'd likely level off.
Every fiber of my being wanted to scream, "What the hell do you know? You don't know what that bang was! We could have been hit by lightning and we’ve clearly lost an engine!! We can't go to England on one engine!!" But I didn’t. I could barely breathe, let alone form words.
He went on to explain that the plane had multiple engines and we could in fact make it to England if necessary and, as he spoke, we indeed began to level off. I began to breathe again, along with everyone else I'm sure. We ultimately made an "emergency landing" in the Bahamas. The airline called it an emergency landing but the truth was, we hit the runway so hard, the plane’s front wheels buckled and we skidded along until veering off into the grass between the airstrips and to keep from falling off the island into the ocean. But we were alive and that's what mattered.
The plane’s electrical systems had been damaged in the crash and, after thirty hours (yes, you read that correctly) of no food and barely any water, sitting either on the plane or on the floor outside customs in Grand Bahama, they finally had crew and planes that could take us on to England or back to Miami. A few dozen people chose to go back and I went with them, making it home in time for a liquor laden New Year's Eve curled up on the couch with a few friends and my stuffed Snuffleupagus (don't be judgey)
Quite literally, in a moment of turbulence, the man on the plane chose to be a life raft for the people around him. He saw an opportunity to step in and help calm the situation. In explaining that, while right now it was scary (ok terrifying) in the end we were going to be ok, he created a window of calm for people filled with fear. I have no idea who he was, but he made an enormous difference for the people he could reach and I have always been grateful the Universe chose to seat him right in front of me. Those of you who know I hate to fly, now you know why.
In moments of turbulence, people react in different ways. Some may panic and fall to pieces, there was plenty of that on the plane, while others may become paralyzed with fear or anxiety, like me. And then there are the ones who spring into action, lending a hand in whichever way they can. Right now, in our nation, we are full up on turbulence, so ask yourself, which person am I?
I'm certainly not judging or telling anyone how they should feel with the abundance of sh*t going on right now. In my opinion, No One has the right to tell you how you should feel about anything. You can tell someone when they've got their facts wrong but how they feel is all on them. What I am saying though, is it's important to self-assess and see how you're doing as you deal with whatever turbulence you may be facing.
Whether you're running through the streets screaming (please wear a mask!) or screaming silently in your head, know it's ok to ask for help! While depression and suicide continue to rise, the times we are living in have made a mockery of mental health issues and the desperate need for more training, more readily available treatment, and much needed funding. If you feel you need help, please ask for it! Scream it out if you need to or whisper to a trusted friend. Just ask for what you need. "I need help with this" is NOT a mark of weakness. It takes courage, strength, and wisdom. When you are drowning in darkness, thinking straight or logically can feel like a monumental task so do what you can, to reach out your hand.
If you are hanging in there and can help calm the turbulence, or help others deal with a situation in a better way, please step in and be a life raft for someone who needs one. And as you do so, remember that things rarely turn out the way we envision them in our head. Whether you’re asking for help or offering it, moving forward through these strange days will likely never look how you think it will. That’s not always a bad thing.
After a string of mentors who crossed lines, ripped apart my heart and left me for dead, what I needed more than anything was a life raft of my own. I had no idea what that could even look like. But, in my darkest moments, as I lay curled up either under my bed or in the back of my closet, I asked the Universe through what seemed like endless tears, "Please, please send someone who can help me figure all of this out!" I had been through so much and was finally starting to emerge from my dark night of the soul, and I knew I needed help. My abilities had come flooding back to me like a tidal wave and I was drowning as I tried to process it all by myself. I had survived the latest round of heartbreak from my Twin*, and I was beginning to better understand my ordeal with the Vampire**, but I needed someone who could guide me, teach me and show me what to do next. I needed to better understand myself, what I had been through and what it was all for.
I believe in the power and importance of mentorship and I am continually grateful and humbled in the positions I hold, which have allowed me to be a caring and capable mentor, primarily for women. While at the same time, my own mentorship has always seemed to come from men. So this time, as I asked the Universe again through my tears, to please send me a teacher, a guide, anyone who could help me, I also asked for a woman.
I asked for a woman with knowledge and experience, who could guide me forward on my path and the Universe sent me a life raft.
Not what I had imagined in my mind at all, of course... He was older and we barely knew each other. He didn't share my views of the Universe, of metaphysics, the continuation of the soul, life after death, none of it. He literally had no knowledge base from which to guide me. How the hell was he supposed to help me? Still, there was something about him, and I was reminded again to trust my guides.
As it turned out, here was a person who could hold space. He was a blank slate, capable of listening without judgement. He was patient, curious and asked intelligent questions, often pushing me to see things in a different way. And he helped create a space that would be safe for the deep emotional healing I needed. I have often said he saved my life. He was a life raft, willing to step in and help however he was able. Though I suspect, that even to this day, he will still say he didn’t do anything, he stood in the gap, holding the other end of my rope and holding that space as I struggled with letting go or saving myself. It is one of the most profound gifts I've ever received.
As we continue to navigate the turbulence of 2020, which seems destined to extend to 2021, if you need space, take it. If you can hold space, do it, and we will get through this together. Allow yourself to feel all the feels and try to remember, it won't always be about the turbulence. We won't be able to feel the good stuff if we're still wearing the blinders we put on to keep us from feeling the bad stuff.
The Universe always has a plan… It rarely looks like we expect but it’s always in our best interest. I couldn’t see it at the time but, they did send a woman to help. It was me. So if the Universe sends a life raft that looks more like a rubber duck, and you have no idea how it can possibly be of help, reach out and take it anyway. The person you rescue may just be you. *https://www.sharidworkinsmith.com/single-post/2017/12/19/him **https://www.sharidworkinsmith.com/single-post/2018/07/27/enter-the-vampire