Cultivating True Security in a Post-9/11 World

There are only 2 kinds of actions to take in life: a reactive one, or a proactive one, and if you want to know which corner you’re in, just climb down your basement stairs and see how much is floating. Drenched as we’ve been lately on the east coast, all ‘state of emergency’ and ‘the sky is falling’ factions have conspired to either congratulate you on your preparedness or illuminate your lack of it.

I ponder my placement on this why-axis as I pull on my rubber boots to survey the damage from yet another weather frenzy. Glad as I am in this moment to be a nomad instead of a nester, I’m even happier that the house I’m temporarily calling home has been tended to: toolboxes on shelves, washer + dryer raised on pallets, no flotsam and jetsam to reel in. Phew. No soup for FEMA today.

Flashing back to 1999, I recall sitting in front of the loan officer at the bank I’d been affiliated with my whole life. I was applying for a mortgage for my first house, and it was proving tricky. Apparently my occupation at the time – waiter – wasn’t what he liked to call traditional. Gratuity-based income didn’t seem to please his rather narrow bankerly mentality, and despite years of consecutive, steady income, tips tripped up his ability to ascertain my cash flow.

“You just can’t count on them,” he said.

“I’ve been counting on them for years,” I replied. “It’s no different from your salary. Look at my taxes – they’re the same year after year. They’re as real as this desk.”

No matter the black and white numbers on the official forms before him, he just couldn’t see it. He was using the wrong mechanism. Security, financial or otherwise, is not something you measure with a calculator or even calipers. Indeed, all we do to protect ourselves out in the big, bad world merely proves it to be an illusion. Don’t be fooled by the necktie. It’s just an expensive, strangling accessory anyway.

I got the mortgage eventually (of course, at a higher percentage rate to compensate for my “unusual” situation), painted the library, unpacked cartons of books, and settled into my new home. It was in this room one morning, in fact, listening to the radio I heard the unfolding news that rocked our cushioned world. Confusion, horror, overwhelming sadness…we all felt it – our sense of safety crashing all around us. From mighty steel…to dust.

In the aftermath, I searched for wisdom and meaning. My philosophizing called into question words like security and patriotism, like my nephew as he learns to speak his world, asking incessantly, what’s this, Aunt Kellie? What’s that called? Why?

In the ten years since, what I’ve come to realize is that security is not collateral to be measured concretely like a regular paycheck or the automobile industry or our ranking in the world or all the crap we stuff into our buildings. It’s nothing we can lay our hands on and say: this technology, this law, this bomb will protect me.

What gives us staying power, the ability to keep calm and carry on is how we proactively position ourselves – the resources we build well, within: Our constitution in the face of great force, whether flood or famine. Our emotional athleticism – being limber enough to feel beyond our own periphery. Our intellectual agility – informing ourselves with multiple perspectives to counteract propaganda (especially from authorities we tend to trust). Our ability to pause – for when the shit hits the fan, we need to move intentionally. And, overall, our lovingkindness – because an open heart always trumps envelopes and embraces fear.

The best place to find shelter…is inside. It’s the strongest, most resilient structure you can create. Just make sure to keep the base(ment) clean, because if you don’t do it now, it’ll be that much harder when you’re forced to.

*********************

“If I could only turn back the clock to when God and her were born.
“Come in,” she said
“I’ll give you shelter from the storm”.

~ Bob Dylan

*****************

Leave a comment

17 Comments

  1. very nice! it’s true that the only way to feel truly safe is to feel it from within. this was a very interesting read. thanks for posting!

    Reply
    • John ~
      Staying nimble is our best stance…yes? Thank you for stopping by! Hope to see you again, soon :)

      Reply
  2. Beautiful post, Kellie! So much to think about. I agree 100% with your sentiments – an open heart trumps fear, it envelopes and embraces fear.

    Reply
    • David ~
      I remember feeling so confused with that loan officer – all those things that we’re taught to pursue for stability: university, corporation, marriage – and seeing, at a young age, right through it all.
      I like how you take love’s power even further…you’ve taught me gentleness just now. See your edits at work. ;) Thank you.

      Reply
  3. I love reading your posts. Your talent with words is terrific and you always make me think. Thank you.

    Reply
    • Lulu ~
      Perhaps I’m getting to share all my years of ‘thinking too much’ with you now? Taking the ‘burden’ off me a bit – haha!
      I think you’ve a great method, too: making beautiful things!

      Reply
  4. Amazing! Exactly what I needed to hear after such an emotional day as yesterday. Fear is within us for many different reasons, usually to ‘protect’ us, but often it can keep us from seeing someone else’s perspective, or can keep us from true growth. Writing illuminates the answers you seek. It is all right in front of you. You speak from your heart and share your discoveries with us. Thank you.

    Reply
  5. Jill ~
    Sometimes I think the best place to be when disaster strikes, whether it be natural or man-made, is holding hands with each other. xo

    Reply
  6. An interesting analogy, and one I think I like a lot. Thank you. :) (Says the newcomer wandering in.)

    Reply
    • Melissa ~
      Newcomers are always welcome! ;)
      Glad you liked it – wondering where others find their sense of security?
      Thanks for stopping by – hope to see you around again, soon.

      Reply
  7. Emotional athleticism. I like that. I guess it is our experience that we consider our training ground that allows us to out-muscle the loan officers and to sprint to a better solution for the flooded basement. Well done.

    Reply
    • Tolley ~
      I’m still working on that athleticism. I come from a rigid place, so this muscle needs CONSTANT attention…
      Thanks for your comment :)

      Reply
  8. Wonderful article, Kellie! You’ve really nailed those inner qualities that give us true security: emotional athleticism, intellectual agility are true survival skills. I think I need to work on the ability to pause….

    Reply
    • Ah, yes, Susan…the ability to pause was YEARS in the making. My nature is utterly impulsive. One of my intentions for the new year is, actually, to cultivate more strategic actions and less impulsvie ones. Do you meditate or employ any other form of breath attention? I’ve found that to be quite helpful in creating space between thinking and doing.

      Reply
  9. Wonderful. This bit is worth quoting, hope you won’t mind :-)

    “What gives us staying power, the ability to keep calm and carry on is how we proactively position ourselves – the resources we build well, within: Our constitution in the face of great force, whether flood or famine. Our emotional athleticism – being limber enough to feel beyond our own periphery. Our intellectual agility – informing ourselves with multiple perspectives to counteract propaganda (especially from authorities we tend to trust). Our ability to pause – for when the shit hits the fan, we need to move intentionally. And, overall, our lovingkindness – because an open heart always trumps envelopes and embraces fear.”

    Love it love it. Thank you.

    Reply
  1. Reading Is Fundamental And Other 70′s PSA Riffs « off~peak

Add your 2 cents!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 119 other followers

%d bloggers like this: