Sunday, January 20, 2008

Notes from the plane crash.

Notes from the plane crash.

I asked my friend one night if he had ever read a certain book. I was struck by his reply:

“I read it, but I was in survival mode, so I don’t remember it.”

We’ve all been through a crisis, but I had never heard such a tangible description of how it feels to be in the middle of one. To be in survival mode.

It’s all encompassing sometimes isn’t it? When you’re just trying to survive something, divorce, a death, a job loss, everything changes. Food doesn’t taste the same. Sleep, once a welcoming friend, becomes like some sort of impenetrable fortress. It’s slippery all the sudden and you can’t get a grasp of it. Things that used to make you laugh, lose their humor. It all kind of gets tangled up in one big ball. And that’s exactly where a girl I know is right now.

She’s going through one of those things I mentioned above and when you see her, you get the sense that she’s been in a plane crash. She might tell you differently, but she’s floating in the ocean right now, trying to shake off the wreckage of some bad decisions.

A counselor is helping her. They meet weekly, but the other day she said something that made me a little concerned about the advice she was getting. It wasn’t anything crazy, she simply remarked, “We’re spending a lot of time getting at my core issues.”

There’s nothing wrong with going at your core issues. I think that’s important. But doing that exclusively is kind of like sitting in your little lifeboat in the ocean and worrying about what type of pilot you are. Thinking about how maybe having your dad as flight instructor gave you a bad sense of self esteem while flying.

Those are important issues, I agree, but right now, you have bigger issues. Like how to get drinking water or how to avoid sharks or sunstroke or maybe just how to get through the day. And my friend’s counselor wasn’t doing that. He was strictly focusing on her point of origin issues, even though her lifeboat had a leak and she was sinking.

I hope you’re not in a crisis right now. I hope you’re not in survival mode, but if you are, please get both types of counsel. Understand the big, lifetime issues that got you there, but also, ask for help today, this hour, maybe this minute. Because as small as a lifeboat is, it’s too big to be in alone.

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