As a mother, I have become very sensitive to the sounds and gut feelings that tell me when people are in distress. It’s something that kicked in, a feeling, a knowing, that started during pregnancy. Many mothers will tell you about “phantom cries” that they hear when separated from their children, or how they just know when they’re ill or that something is wrong. They don’t know how they know, they just know. And they trust it. I had an experience today that really tested me. It’s all well and good to remain calm when things are…calm. But what about during an emergency?
I work in a public library and despite the stories of old, libraries are quite the center of community: bustling spaces filled with computers, students, tutors and teachers, children and parents. Cell phones ring, babies cry, and noise abounds. Not always, but often.
Today, I felt my skin prick; the hairs on my neck stood up. Something was wrong. And I listened, through the haze of audible debris… “help me.” My mommy-gut kicked into overdrive. It sounded like a child; a child that needed me. It wasn’t my child, but I was a mother. I was a person…and I heard it. When the senses are alerted to a dangerous situation, our focus changes. I could zoom right in on the sound; the cry for help. My co-worker heard it too, we set out to investigate. And I walked, scouring the aisles of book stacks. And then I found her.
An older woman, not a child at all. I approached her just as she lost balance and began to plunge toward the floor. I anchored my weight and caught her from behind, the way I had learned. I slid her slowly down my knee, and we rested on the floor. And we simply sat. I recalled all the techniques I’d learned in the past year on creating and maintaining a sense of inner peace. And how contagious our energy is. And how important that is…especially in times of crisis. Cool heads solve problems, panic creates them.
I sat with the woman for about ten minutes. She didn’t want an ambulance. She was covered with sweat, had cottonmouth, and was very weak. I remembered going into shock after my c-section and how low my blood pressure dropped when I sat up too soon, and how dangerous that was for me. So I didn’t move her, I let her stay in position. Breathing, relaxing, slowly sipping water. While flushed, she was alert, she was staying conscious. And I saw how my calm presence soothed her, and I was so grateful to have fought through my own struggles with anxiety, to know how to avoid it, or to deal with it. And I imagined that if I panicked and ran in circles with excited energy…that it would affect her negatively. I wanted to help her, not hurt her. But I was so grateful to be there, to catch her, to comfort her, to rub her back and tell her that she was fine.
The lesson here, I think…is two-fold:
Control your inner environment — In any crisis, or in any circumstance, from the wild and dangerous, to the mundane and emotional…we can get an edge over any situation by simply finding our inner calm, our inner strength. By staying centered. Breathing slowly. Assessing the situation, and acting intuitively and calmly. Memories re-surface to instruct us, intuition guides us, if we listen. But we must stay calm, chaos breeds more chaos.
Trust your intuition — your gut brings things to your attention through sensations in your body, memories for you to reference, and the adrenaline to persevere. If we learn to listen, we can wade through unexpected scenarios armed with faith and resilience. Know yourself, trust yourself.
It should be noted, that I have minor experience in emergency management response, so I did draw on what I knew. But we have opportunities to educate ourselves. Learn first-aid, take a CPR class, especially if you have or work with children. Also, I highly recommend this site: [https://www.statearchivists.org/files/1014/4985/5968/PReP-template-english.pdf ] for public institutions. Every organization should have an emergency management plan and know how to implement it.
Let’s take care of each other. Let’s be angels to each other. Let’s pick each other up when we fall. If we educate ourselves and know that we can help, it becomes that much harder to turn away. And we shouldn’t. Let’s be the ones who hear the call, who respond with compassion, who help someone cross the street, who offer to carry groceries to someone’s car, if they need it.
Always trust your instincts and learn to balance your inner environment. It may come in handy… for someone else. And the rewards for helping another in this way? An inner joy and peace and love inside, that only comes through giving. By showing up for each other in this way, we let the divine course through us. Stay present, you might make a difference.
I am happy to report that my new friend, the older woman I found, is fine. After nearly a half hour with staff at her side, she was picked up and is home resting and re-hydrating.