I can’t see. And I can’t breathe. And I am panicking.
I kick for the surface, but one of my legs won’t work. It’s caught. I am trapped. I kick harder. I feel a grip tighten around my leg. Scott, my dive buddy, is holding me down. I continue to panic. My brain tries to recall classroom words. Bubbles. That’s all I can remember. If you lose your way in dark water, follow the bubbles. But I can’t follow the bubbles. Because Scott is trying to kill me. And now I’m trying to kill him.
Scott wins, of course. But he doesn’t kill me. He saves me. In my panic, I had forgotten other, more important words. Nitrogen. Decompression. Injury. Death. It turns out that I am claustrophobic and that SCUBA is not the sport for me. I take Scott for a drink to thank him. And the next day, I drop SCUBA and enroll in a sailing class.
I thought of this story this morning. A song by Disturbed came on, “A Reason To Fight”. Now I know this band may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but I recommend listening to this song. If nothing else, go check the lyrics. Anyway… it came on while I was in the shower, and I had to stop what I was doing to have a good cry. And I realized mid-cry that this was not a specific cry. It was an all-encompassing cry. Does that make sense? Do you have those too?
So I took my laptop as I went for my walkabout. And I found a spot in the park. And I knew what I wanted to write.
I began writing a letter to a friend. Then I realized that I could be writing this same letter to so many of my friends.
In this doomsday climate of media-fueled political division… In a world that seems to have condensed into a landscape of social media lies and memes… In towns divided by hatred toward specific groups… and even in churches filled with hypocrisy… It is getting harder and harder to find a way to refill our tired spirits. Pools of happiness become puddles. And growing cynicism leads us to believe they are mirages.
This is a difficult world to navigate when you have everything going for you. But what about when you have to deal with the crap life often hands you? Fights with friends, breakups, divorce, financial woes, having/raising/losing children, empty nesting, job stress, job loss, illness, pain and death? These are things everyone deals with from time to time. But what is happening now? Why does it seem like all of this is amplified?
I have always tried to live by one piece of relationship advice: Only one person up a tree at a time. And I’ve tried to raise my girls with one piece of advice: Pick your battles.
Those two mantras will get you through a lot of situations. They are almost too simple. But… When everyone is up a tree, and all the battles seem to be life-or-death, what then?
Maybe, just maybe, it’s the same as being underwater. We are panicking. Struggling. Drowning. We see bubbles rising to the surface and we want to follow them.
Hold on a little longer. It’s okay. Rushing to the surface might be a bad thing. Find your neutral buoyancy. Buddy breathe. Find your calm and resist the fight. Take it slow, and rise until you are ready to break the surface.