For nine days, 12 children and their soccer coach were trapped in a cave in Thailand without knowing whether anyone would find them. It took eight more days while the divers figured out how to get them through 2.5 miles of underwater caverns in the pitch dark; the documentary “The Rescue” is the incredible true story. If it were fiction, you wouldn’t believe it.
The ending is, blessedly, a happy one, but I slept poorly after watching it; my mind kept spinning in the claustrophobia and tension of the situation. Again and again, I came back to a quiet hero of the story: the 25 year old coach, Ekapol Chantawong, who shepherded his charges, ages 11-16, through those endless, formless hours. Even sitting here writing this I am moved to tears; this man reminds me of Earnest Shackleton, who kept his crew alive for a year and a half with no sure hope of rescue after their ship became trapped and sunk in pack ice in Antarctica. Chantawong taught the kids to meditate to keep them calm and conserve their energy.
How do you get people to accept the transposition of their human dignity from universally-understood and accepted rights to hostage privileges scattered on the Hungry Hippo board of rapacious petty tyrants and psychopaths (and not a few useful idiots)?
Create endless cycles of existential threats; an iv-drip of fear for any proclivity. Afraid of disease? We’ve got you covered. Is your fear of creeping domestic fascism? Step right up! What about nuclear war? Have I got a deal for you! Or maybe you are concerned about animal habitats. There’s something for everyone in the library of subacute terror. If you allow yourself to be hijacked by this relentless bid for control over your emotions, one of two things will happen. Either you will become completely paralyzed, or you will suppress and somatize these un-dischargeable anxieties into dysfunctional physical and emotional states that inhibit your sleep and corrupt your waking life.
Within you, that child in the darkness of a prison cave waits. She doesn’t know if help will come. He doesn’t know if he can get out. Someone else is there, too, though: within you is that coach. He also doesn’t know what will happen. But he does know that you have your breath. She knows where courage comes from; she knows that the heart sits between the lungs, and that every return to that place is a return to your center.
When you feel trapped and oppressed by the weight of what others wish for your energy, when you feel yourself succumbing to their agenda for your psyche, reach out your hand and feel the walls of the cave. Run your fingers over the surface, rough and damp. Listen to the sound of water dripping, and the silence beyond.
Then hold your hand flat against that wall, and push. Feel the mud crumble, see the light pour in. Sweep up above your head and close your hand around the cosmic thread; pinch your fingers together and draw it down as you breath out. The only difference between the uncertainty the pundits peddle and the promise of distant horizons is the illusion you ever know what is beyond them.
Take heart, and your heart will take you home.
The flower essence Borage is a lovely and supportive tool for accessing your courage.
(At the end of some posts, I will offer relevant insights and suggestions about tools I use, myself or with clients, to support the transformative process that is healing.)