I have never been in the middle of a forest fire or a hurricane or a volcano eruption. I have never felt the earth open underneath me in an earthquake. I have never faced down an angry assailant or looked death in the eye. I have never experienced a major crisis but I have been close to a few. I have been crisis adjacent .
My father was in a plane crash and that was pretty tense for a while. but I didn’t find out about it until after we knew he was OK. I have come across car accidents just after they have happened. I offered what assistance I could but I was never in any danger. I have been trapped on a Lake in the middle of a horrendous storm but with all the canoes secured together we just floated it out. I guess I have just been incredibly lucky.
Many years ago, a friend of mine was in Mexico during a horrific earthquake. She was terrified. She and her companions huddled in the doorway and waited for the shaking to stop. She left the country the next day. I cannot begin to imagine what she went through. Maybe this is why I enjoy watching disaster movies. It isn’t so much for the disaster but how people respond to it. The hero and heroine always come out looking wonderful but it’s the side stories that interest me. It is the image of a stranger reaching down to help another. They don’t discuss ideology or politics or even the weather. They just help one another. I know it’s a movie and I don’t ever want to experience a tsunami to find out how I will react. Maybe if I watch enough disaster movies, I will know what to do but one can never be absolutely certain until you are in the moment.
All the planning in the world can be derailed by a simple misunderstanding or a missed appointment. We can have the best intentions but at the moment we freeze . Why? Because life is not an algorithm. It is a series of moments strung together to form your life, your existence. Our reaction to what is happening around us is predicated on our past, our experiences and our understanding of the situation. People with proper training react without thinking. Police officers , first responders. These people have trained and acted out scenarios so that they will know exactly what to do without taking the time to formulate a plan. Sometimes seconds really do count.
For the rest of us we just react, hopefully responsibly. But it is in that moment of crisis when all the ego is burned off and what is left is the true merit of a person. I wonder what I will do …