#15. Save a life.
Removing a bath towel from the linen closet a clever child will tie it tightly to his neck and suddenly it becomes a cape. Using his little hands to carefully cut out a paper mask that he has assembled from a stack of old newspapers, he will apply a bit of string and his alter ego takes shape. Stepping into a pair of his daddies old cowboy boots that are oversized for his feet, the boy will attempt to walk the path of goodness. It is in this child’s play that the boy becomes the hero he sees in the everyday man.
When we are young we think that these heroes serve and protect for the purpose of creating goodness in the world, but, more often than not their acts of heroism necessitate from the need to be brave when others are weak and cannot stand up for themselves. A courageous individual is no stronger than the average person. They do not have super powers, as such powers do not exist. While a heroic person may possess the knowledge and skills of how to act in a time of crisis, has the ability to remain calm, and the resources to provide comfort or assurance to a victim, they too are only human.
In my life, I can only recall two instances when my bravery has been tested. The first of which was when I was a young boy, and I stood by and watched my mother save a life. The second time, I was actually the one doing the saving. I guess you could say that being a witness to such an act created a hidden strength inside me, or I learned very quickly how to take action. I mean, how unlikely is it that I would experience almost the same phenomenon and react differently in both situations?
Crouched over the stranger who lay in the aisle at the department store, my mother applied pressure to his forehead where blood had been streaming out. As we had happened by moments before, this man had a seizure and subsequently fallen backwards into the edge of a sharp clothing rack. As his body convulsed on the floor, my mother yelled for help. I stood in shock. How did she know what to do? At that moment, it was as if time stood still and everything around me suddenly became a blur. I was scared, but also concerned. When the ambulance arrived I was finally able to breathe again.
Several years later, during my first week at my new job, a co-worker also had a seizure. Minutes before, I suspected that he was not behaving in his usual manner. In fact, he began turning in place, like a clock circulating to the next hour. When I tried to speak to him, he couldn’t answer. When I reached out to touch his shoulder he started screaming. At that moment he was afraid and admittedly, so was I. Anticipating that my co-worker might collapse like the stranger my mother and I had encountered years before, I wrapped my arms around my co-worker to stop him from spinning. I clasped my hands behind his head and gently laid him on the floor. Being the only manager on duty, I told a fellow co-worker to stay calm and call an ambulance. Hurriedly, she picked up her cell phone and dialed for help. Speaking with dispatch she was able to explain what had happened and requested an ambulance. While we waited, I held my co-workers hand and tried to keep communicating with him. I kept telling him to stay calm, but inside I was screaming. My hands were shaking, as if my own body were having convulsions too. While I was terrified on the inside, I knew that my co-worker needed me to take care of him and be his assurance.
I have often wondered if I should find myself in such a situation, would I have the courage to save a life. On a scale of one to ten, I have never considered myself to be a fearless person and would probably rate myself a four or five in bravery. Even when I was growing up, being bullied in school on a daily basis, I never stood up for myself, or anyone else for that matter. I cowered in corners and hid behind my locker out of fear. I was the victim. I guess it was easier for me in a way to always let other people win. I have never really been a competitive person, and figured why give them another chance to poke fun of me when I fail.
I do not consider myself to be a failure. I never have. In fact, I might suggest that my accomplishments are plentiful, but, despite these accomplishments, I remain humble. I do not consider myself to be a hero and even find that my acknowledgement of such heroes is ridiculous because as previously mentioned heroes are just humans. When people are put in the right place at the right time and know how to take action, they can accomplish many great things. There is no science behind goodness. It is a human condition to help, show compassion and empathy for those around us.
As a boy, I always wanted to be a hero. But, as I look back on these moments, being a hero is just the fictional title we give those that save lives. Some people do this every day because it is their job. While others like me, are only called upon when the time is right. We all have the power. Grab your cape and suit up!