Finding Our Way Back

There are moment in life that you make a choice, and in that instant you don’t think, you don’t wait for your mind to tell you what to do.  You act.  Nature has given us our response; fight or flight. All animals have been programed to survive, and we too react to survive at times.  It is true for the mice of the field, the deer in the woods, and all creatures created by God.

There are things in this world that we witness; terrible acts of indifference, violence, hate and love.  Sometimes we just happen to be at the wrong place at the wrong time (or the right place at the right time, depending on how you look at it), and we witness things that break our hearts, rip through our souls, or leave us empty inside.  And in that moment, we either fight it or run as far away as we can, as fast as possible.

Nature tells us that to survive, sometimes we must run.  And at times, we do.  We run a physical route when we can, but many times we find ourselves running deep within ourselves.  We freeze up and cannot find our way back.

In Uganda, I froze as I listened to the piercing cry of a mother.  I stood there, unable to more as her child lay motionless within my reach.

I froze the morning in which I found out that my team, part of NCCC, was being deployed to the tornado in Joplin.  I stood there in the doorway as thousands of thoughts, fears and nightmares rushed in to consume me.  I stood there watching the chaos around me as my teammates packed.

On the sands of Breezy Point, I froze as I took in the enormous weight of SuperStorm Sandy.  I stood there without a word, listening to the sirens, not knowing what I needed to do.  Where I should lead my team to start.

I have retreated into the depths of my thoughts too many times to count.  From fears.  From memories.  I fled deep within in an attempt to survive.

But each time, I found my way back.  It was through the kind words of a friend, the touch of another, and the realization that I could not abandon those I served beside that gave me the strength to find my way back.  In some way, it has always been love that has led me back.

There are times we run so deep within ourselves that we cannot find our way back on our own.

It is not that we are weak or fragile.  It is the simple fact that we can never be prepared for everything.  Some call it courage.  Others call it strength.  Gregory David Roberts, in his book Shantaram, shares some hidden wisdom within the pages when he simply states:

What we call cowardice is often just another name for being taken by surprise, and courage is seldom any better than simply being well prepared.

We can take all the FEMA Disaster Response and Emergency Management Courses in the world.  We can talk our way through scenarios until we turn blue in the face.  We can train for days, weeks, months and even years, but we will never know how we react until that moment strikes.

To say that we will never run or freeze up is to lie to ourselves.

Despite living though a handful of disasters, serving in response to both Joplin and Sandy, taking hours of training, and having hands on experience through the past several years with AmeriCorps, I am still afraid.  I know what I need to do, but at the same time, I don’t know how I will react when the [edit] hits the fan, as they say.

I am confident that I will find my way back quickly, but I know not everyone has the same experiences that I do.  Sometimes we need to step back and understand that we are all in this together, and though we may not see it, to some extent all of us are running.  And the difference could be as simple as a kind word, a smile, hug, or a simple gesture of appreciation, acknowledgement, or understanding.

We prepare ourselves by surrounding ourselves with people who love us for who we are.  All our fears and failures included.  And in that moment, we rely on the strength of those around us to find our way back.

Just some thoughts….

God Bless and PEACE

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1 Comment »

  1. invadermoody Said:

    Well said. You nailed that one my friend.


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