Looks ARE Deceiving

We can never know what’s going on for someone else.

I was at the Tuscon airport a couple of days ago, preparing to fly back home here to Montana. I sat down at the terminal, in close enough proximity to a woman who’s cell phone conversation I could hear very readily. She was an attractive woman. Shoulder-length blonde hair, middle-aged. She was sitting at the electronic port station situated in front of a large window overlooking the tarmac. Although there was little I could do not to overhear her conversation, I felt badly for eavesdropping, so I quickened my pace in getting the music going on my iPod. In the meantime, however, I learned that she was leaving her 20-something-year-old son behind, to return back home, after situating him into a rehab. He was not at all well – detoxing, incoherent, unable to care for himself. His girlfriend would be not be allowing him to move back in when he got out. And there was a real possibility, and seemingly well-grounded motherly consideration, that he wasn’t done yet “out there,” using. It was hard for her to leave. But she seemed sturdy in her composure and confident in the decisions she’d made.

In looking at her I never would’ve thought to myself: I bet her son is going through a ravaging, brutal detox right now. I bet she just spent the last few days forcing him into rehab against his will and supporting him at his bedside as he went in and out of consciousness. And I bet she feels hopeful/broken about the whole messy situation.

And it’s like this with everyone we meet. We see someone, whether a stranger or even a loved one, and think we have them all figured out. And we totally don’t. We have no idea what’s going on for someone else.

I wonder why it’s so common for us to think we’re experts when it comes to other people. When we attach ourselves too strongly to our perceptions, it’s a recipe for creating separation and misunderstanding. As Thay teaches: 99% of our perceptions are incorrect. And ultimately it’s our mis-perceptions about ourselves, others, and life itself that causes the greatest amount of our suffering.

Today: I will practice to look beyond the surface, in order to connect and engage with others in a way that opens and extends my understanding and compassion.

 

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This is Just a Drill

City Emergency Response Drill, Morning Prep

City Emergency Response Drill, Morning Prep

Yesterday there was an emergency response drill at the airport.  Community members were asked to volunteer to be part of the process in order to enable city emergency responders to practice their organization and skills in the event of a tragic occurrence.  The FAA requires every airport to perform these drills every three years.

The day was sectioned into two parts and a volunteer could sign up for all or part of the day.  The morning was designed as the Response Phase, where volunteers would act as victims of a plane crash, and the afternoon was set up for Family Reunification, where volunteers would be searching for their injured loved ones from the crash at the local hospitals.  I signed up for the whole day.  When I heard about this volunteer opportunity I was motivated to get involved due to having been active with the clean-up efforts of the local avalanche that struck a neighborhood in our town three months ago, burying four and claiming the life of one.  After that experience I figured the more I can do to help train emergency responders the better.

The Response Phase required us to sign in around 7:30am.  We were given cards upon our arrival that listed our injuries and symptoms and then proceeded to go through moulage, the application of scars and make-up to simulate our assigned injuries.  There were around 70 volunteers so this process took some time.  My card stated that I had upper back pain, a lacerated left shoulder, and trouble breathing deeply.  It also had my vitals listed on it.  Here is a pic of my fake wound:

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