“If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you.”
These first two lines of Rudyard Kipling’s poem, If, present thoughts to live by during these unpredictable times. When we are witnessing rare events such as huge fires, dust storms, hail storms, floods and winds that have blown planes askew, we need to hold on to something to stay grounded.
Years ago in Chicago, during windy snowstorms, we saw old news clips of people holding on to a thick rope that was secured to help them navigate their way. We affectionately call the wind “The Almighty Hawk” and Chicago is also known as The Windy City. The ropes served as anchors to help people steady themselves.
Today, we have to bear down and seek a sense of security as we see people losing it as we see mass shootings in churches, theatres, schools and a few other places. We try to ‘keep our heads’ or as the older generation would remind us to ‘keep a level head.’ We heard of phrases such ‘blowing one’s top’ and now we can see the results when pandemonium breaks out.
When we see things that we have absolutely no control over, we look for ways to cope and create a sense of balance for ourselves. Our creative outlets, our hobbies and our recreational activities can serve as up lifters during these perilous times.
To me, the biggest challenge is explaining these harrowing events to our children. With adult friends, we can simply clasp hands and shake our heads in disbelief. But with our children? Well, they ask questions and demand answers and will not be put off.
Before we respond, we must still ourselves. We need to breathe or take a walk. Maybe we can tend to our plants or tinker under a car hood or work on a ceramic wheel or whittle on some wood before we attempt to speak to them. We must unravel our thoughts and think long and deep. We might wonder how one of our grandparents would answer the troubling question called,“Why?”
And after a long sigh, perhaps we can come up with a mature response that both we and the children can live with and accept as a truth. We keep our cool emotionally. We speak slowly, carefully and succinctly. And, finally, if need be, we admit that we just don’t have all of the answers as we encourage them to remain calm.
August 15, 2015