Monday, November 03, 2003

Independence Days

We learn to crawl before we learn to walk.
To learn to make the colour lime, you first have to learn that yellow and blue make green, only then will you learn to add more yellow and white to the equation.
Our learning process works pretty much the same. We learn in phases. We crawl through being babies to toddlers, then skip on to being children, stumble through the teenage years, race onto to adulthood and before you know it we´re grumpy senior citizins!
Should you make it this far, what you learn on the way is what we call survival techniques. When you´re a baby, your mommy does everything from feeding your face to wiping your bottom. Toddlers begin to feel how much it hurts to fall, but always have a teacher or parent close by to pick them up... as children we learn to avoid bullies along with the falls, and by the time we grow into teenagers we begin dodging the first of many killer heartbreaks, the kind that cause major damages with every nose-dive!
Most of you still have your mom and dad to soften your falls. No matter how old you are, some of you still have mom or dad´s phone number on speeddial. Even though you learn to use that button less and less with age and experience, it´s still a comfort to know it´s there and you can dial it whenever the gravity betrays you.
Some of us don´t have that luxury.
Some of us learn from early on to be independent. We learn that only person we can count on is the person who stares back in the mirror. The one reflection that stays with us when the rest of the world turns it´s back on us. As dramatic as that may seem, the fact is, that survival depends on one´s ability to depend on him/herself.
Independence is the art of surviving on your own.
When I get kicked down, all I pray for is to hit the floor quickly so that I can´t go down any further. When you hit the bottom of your pit, the only way to go is up. Sooner or later, we all fall. We fall once, twice and many times in our lifetime. When we´re younger we might find the hand belonging to one of our parents or friends to help pick us up. But as we grow older, we learn that there isn´t always a hand available to collect us from the ground.
So we do it ourselves.
We cry. We sream. We hurt.
Then we pick ourselves from the cold floor and wipe ourselves off. We shake the mud and dirt from our faces and we learn to stare proud back into the eyes that looked down on us... this is survival of the fittest.
This is independence in the real world.
Sometimes we get hit so hard that it takes a litte longer to arise.
Sometimes there will be many willing hands around us but none have the strength to pull us up.
But we always get up, because the only choice you´re left with is to either get up or die.

I know a true story of a determined Soul that fights with fire and Ice against the world´s storms. A real courageous Soul, it knows it will fall, but it won´t let that fall kill so much as an ounce of it´s spirit. This independent Soul learnt from early on to get up without any helping hand. Being thrown against the hardest walls, the coldest floors and being shut in the deepest of pits, this Soul always found a way back into the light.
Having a mind of it´s own, it often chased dreams into the worst of circuimstances.
We all get overconfident when we repeatedly survive many storms. We stop fearing the decline and begin to think that no matter how hard we fall, we´ll always be able to get up. This is what the Soul imagined before walking into another storm. It walked into the biggest hurricane it had ever seen, with the confidence that this one would be no more difficult to survive than any of the others.
But this hurricane was different from all the others.
The wind blew with all it´s might, the thunder rolled gloriously and the lightening blinded the way. The Soul lost it´s way in a storm that was bigger than it could handle. And just when our Soul thought it could take no more, the hurricane passed, and our Soul was dropped in the deepest, darkest hole it had ever found itself in...
The darkness was thick and suffocating and when the Soul could fall no more, it landed with a huge crash... and then the rain began pouring on it´s head.
After many days and many nights, the clouds varied in shades of black and blue. Raindrops fell hard along with anger, guilt and shame... The sky looked empty, the air was cold, and the Soul longed for sunshine that had been stolen from the sky.
After some time, our soul became too numb to feel the rain and it wisefully sat waiting for the rain to pass...
Then and only then, would our Soul manage the strength to get up ... so it patiently sat and waited...
But the rain did not stop, and the sun did not come.
The Soul heard the many voices around the pit, but was too afraid to make a noise. It knew that some people, rather than help, would throw him back harder into the pit, so it prefered not to take that risk.
No one knew that it was down there, no one could see the darkness it was trapped in. The Soul could only depend on itself.
So it waited...
It knew that it couldn´t keep on raining, and that the sun would eventually come out. Sometimes when the rain became a drizzle, the soul would look up at the clouds and imagine the face and hand that once pulled it out of trouble when it was younger. The memories would comfort it against the cold of the rain, but they could not pull it out the pit...
...but it can´t always rain. The Soul knew that... so it sat and waited.
Just when the Soul was about to give up. Just when it was determined on leaving some of itself behind and salvage what it could, a face under an umbrella appeared. The eyes belonging to the face had soon before seen the soul falling into the pit and had been waiting for the Soul to ask for help.
But the Soul did not ask for help and the face did not reach out a hand.
Instead, it threw the Soul a rope and waited for Soul as it pulled itself out the hole.

These are our friends.

They are not there to rescue us out of our troubles. They can walk with us through our journey and offer a shoulder to lean on, but their hands might not always be strong enough to pull us up.. Instead... they throw us the tools we need to dig our way our our holes.. God sent these angels in the form of family and friends. They are not to interfere with our mission, but they can watch our backs. It´s a jungle out there and although we need to be independent to survive, we are not alone. We all need someone sometimes, just like someone one day will need us.

I dedicate this column to all the people who threw me a rope when I found myself in the quicksand. May I always be able to return the favour.

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