Safety, and the desire for safety when expressed as fear, is an insurmountable prison, but Maslow had it right, safety based in personal responsibility and love is the foundation upon which true friendship grows. Some lives begin with every breath and every move monitored just to keep the breath and movement continuing. These are the lives I serve professionally. Some lives end with an ever increasing need to have others meet their basic needs, this is where I also serve.
I am taking away so much from this week in Glendale.
Synchronicity, or as my friend James would call it ” signal,” brought another nurse and her husband to my table at this years Nurse appreciation dinner. My company, MGA, may be completely patient focused, but it treats its nurses well too!
I spoke first of my lovely trip to Kenya and how, no matter where I am, small children and those whom age or health have clouded cognition find and befriend me. The husband of my co-worker mentioned how it has become harder and harder for his mother to be safely alone throughout the day and how a long planned family vacation was looming, their dilemma because few affordable and good short term in-home options exist in our cities-without-community for those not really able to be alone, but far from needing round the clock care.
It seems that those in need of someone to really see them befriend me easily. Or perhaps the universe helps them find me, and I befriend them.
I am not sure how it actually works, I just know it happens. And that is how I ended up spending a week here in Glendale with a lonely cognitively cloudy Octogenarian. We have a love for Kenya in common, of Isak Denison; and in her younger days the woman took my dream train trip across Asia. She also loves salads and vegetables more than meat, and thinks coffee in the morning is the bees’ knees. Therefore it has been easy to find common ground with which to build a friendship.
I am so glad to be here, and she is happy to have me here as well. I listen and look at the picture albums. I found a couple old movies and an inexpensive DVD player (thank-you Target!)
She is very lonely, most of the friends and family of her youth have died. The other thing she is, she knows she is not herself anymore, that she forgets things. For so many reasons, she is very afraid.
I have a core belief that every life wants to be seen for the bright shining thing that it truly is; that the clearest communication is a warm friendly smile; and no one is my enemy. I have little fear and little mean in me. Maybe that is why I am good at this thing, I don’t even know what to call it, but this thing where the vulnerable and I are friends.
Actually my friend Sara says I can make a friend anywhere. Maybe that is true. I really don’t know.
Do not misunderstand, there are those who see me as other, and I have a desire for safety born out of love for life, and a love for that which is hostile to me. I lock doors, and occasionally preclude poisonous lives, including humans, from my dance space.
An example of creating safety versus acting with fear would be my relationship with bees, ants and some antibiotics.
I have had an anaphylactic reaction to a bee sting, ant bites X 2, and once each to sulfa and cephalosporins. Anaphylaxis is incredibly frightening. Twice I lost consciousness from my allergic reactions advancing so quickly. The first time I woke in an ambulance one of my sons had called, the second time I was already at the hospital (ABO) and woke to IV’s and breathing assistance. I am lucky to be alive and I legitimately have a spill of fight or flight chemicals at the sight of an ant crawling on me, or just before I take a new antibiotic (ABO).
Does that mean I pour white vinegar down every ant hill I see or smash their scurrying worker bodies with malice and/or gusto? Do I add to the eco-toppling demise of the buzzing little bee with garden pesticides and never again grow the herbs or flowers I love? Or perhaps avoid the outdoors all together? Should I flee my chosen profession to avoid contact with these common treatments for infection?
No, that is safety based on fear. To completely avoid these risk factors my life would become so narrow that happiness could never, if ever, slip through and embrace me.
Safety based on love and understanding means I wear shoes and socks when hiking, at the zoo, and pretty much anytime I will be out in nature. Hiking sandals may be cooler and more comfortable for my feet in AZ’s heat but breathing is a higher priority. Safety means I always have non-latex gloves AND masks in my nursing bag so if I need to crush a pill for g-tube administration I will not accidentally touch or inhale my allergen.
What else do I do?
Well I try to keep my system clean through healthy eating and exercise so if I do get bit or come in contact with something that my immune system reacts to, it doesn’t go all nuclear on it.
That is how I handle people as well. I have no enemies, but I now come equipped with emotional gloves and mask, and I meditate daily and consume books, movies and music that feed what is best in me. Using potato chip entertainment as the snack size portion for which it is intended. Am I spartan in my lifestyle, hardly. Look around, nature is hedonistic. In fact my healthy diet beats out a junk diet in taste as well as nutrition.
More importantly though, I walk through the world with a faith in the pattern. For some the pattern is the scientific definition and the mathematical art of energy, for some it is a Mother with arms of earth, for some it is the Judeo-Christian-Islamic God, for me it is all of these and none of these. What I know for sure is that it is the anti-thesis of fear and it is gains no joy in meanness. And this thing I call capital “L” Love assures me that it will all be right in the end.
I also know for sure that it was synchronicity that brought me here this week. If my new friend and I had met in another time in either of our lives, and seen only the labels or boxes society would sort us into, we might have been enemies. If we had, we would certainly have missed out on a grand adventure.
I also learned that I still cry at “Gone With the Wind,” and I will cry all four times I watch “Out of Africa,” and that anyone who does this 24/7 for their loved one is truly my hero.