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Successful Sunday, January 9th, 2022

CW: Death - What if the worst happens?

A red neon outlined question mark against a black wall.  The neon There is a red glow against the white and yellow outline of the question mark.

The cat decided that I had slept enough, so here we are. Yesterday, on a whim, I posted a poll with questions about questions. It appears to have touched a nerve, and I shared a beautiful moment with other humans where we allowed ourselves to be vulnerable and shared our collective fears. So many people are feeling a loss of hope and are concerned about possible failure. Will their children ever be okay? Where is our next meal coming from? By the way, Team "Should I join the circus?" is in the lead. In my poll, I asked, "What do you have questions about?" I had four potential questions: What should I do career-wise? Should I join the circus? Should I leave social media? Why am I here? My friends on the platform asked even better questions. Will my kids have a normal life? What happens if I can't afford stuff anymore? I will share a little of my story about the question, "What if the unthinkable happens?" Content Warning and Spoilers - Someone dies.

A lifetime ago, I was on the phone with a doctor discussing an action plan for my husband. The hospital had admitted him due to his oxygen levels being low. They had started him on a cocktail of medicines, and the oxygen was not enough. She wanted to put him on a BiPAP, a ventilator similar to a CPAP. "Do you have any questions?" The one I said out loud was, "What if that does not work?" I need to prepare for the worst-case scenario. She walked me through the subsequent interventions, and I thanked her. I had a sinking feeling in my stomach, but I tried to remain hopeful. The question echoing around in my head was, "What if he doesn't make it? What if the unthinkable happens? What if I become widowed? What will we do?"

He did not make it. It was a surreal moment, almost a fever dream. I went into auto-pilot and began the process of sharing the news and adding to the collection of broken hearts as I rang his parents, my family, my kids that were away, my boss, and others. My absolute worst fear happened, and I am still here. It was not easy, and I struggled, but I hope that sharing what helped me will help you navigate your waking nightmares. I have to go a little further back in time. I had wanted to get our affairs for several years. My aunt and uncle had passed away, and even though they had a will, it was a very tedious process. Having seen it firsthand lit a fire in me. The hardest part about making a will is facing your mortality and making decisions in the face of uncertainty. When you face your fears, they lose some of their teeth because you can make a plan. When I did therapy a few years ago, one of the techniques suggested was to take the fear to its conclusion. At the time, I worried about losing my job. What if I did? Well, x would happen, then y would happen, and z would happen. What can I do about it in the present? I can start an emergency fund, use a budget to pay down the bills, work on my resume, and do many other things. I thankfully have not lost my job but making a plan helped.

After my poll's responses took a left turn, I decided to host an emergency crayon intervention. Making art is soothing, and it also helps me get some of my best ideas. Someone joined me, and while I colored, we talked through their "what if" question and concluded that we needed better questions. We also recognized that many people globally have to live in uncertainty daily; what makes us so unique that we should be immune? What if people recognized their power? What if we tried to make a world where people would not have to dig to their depths to be resilient? We applaud books such as "Man's Search for Meaning" by Viktor Frankl but rarely question why people have to develop such extraordinary coping techniques. What if we did not accept putting people in horrendously preventable circumstances? Sickness and death were doing fine on their own and did not need us to design crueler and more effective ways to operate, such as medical apartheid or death camps. Recognizing our power to choose even if the choices are limited and untenable helps us survive despair. Far too many people make a permanent choice to a temporary situation. I think the idea of loved ones committing suicide is also one of the unspoken questions. 

It is okay to ask big questions. If you want to survive these questions, recognize your power. It can be terrifying to confront those questions. In my case, we had decided what to do in case of death. Having a plan guides you through the crisis. If you or your loved ones are scared of something, make a plan to face your fear. The CDC had a brilliant campaign about how to fight the zombie apocalypse. Many of the techniques used against zombies would also be helpful against natural disasters. Consider engaging the power of imagination when you confront your demons. The scariest part is not being able to see a future. When you make a plan, you have the next steps after the unthinkable happens. Step one, take a deep breath. You do not have to do this alone. Please reach out for help. Namaste.

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Show Transcript:

Intro: Uplifting horns, Welcome to another edition of Things to Think About. Here's Stacy!

Podcast:   Welcome to the Things To Think About Podcast where we use fables and fairy tales to come to deeper truths about our subconscious world. I’m Stacy Casson and today’s tale came from a collective unease about What if the worst happens? We will explore this topic in a tale I call, Kiss the Cat and Never Look Back Again.  That is a line from the song Join the Circus from the musical Barnum. And now, get comfortable and relax. Take a Deep Breathe in and exhale. A Deep Breath in and exhale. Deep breath in an exhale. And if you'd like, you can slowly...close...your eyes.

 Once upon a time, love surrounded a little human being. They enjoyed a large community filled with loving big humans, happy pets, play, and the freedom to be themselves. In their home, a giant many-petaled stained glass rose adorned their entryway shedding a rosy glow in their great community hall. The little humans laughed and swirled, and the big humans smiled adoringly, happy at the world they had built together. The little humans never noticed the slight strain in the smiles of the big humans. All they had ever known was abundance and harmony, so years later, when the rock crashed through the rose window, it shattered more than the glass. Tamrin helped to clean up the glass, and the elders continued on calmly and pragmatically. They introduced rules for everyone’s safety, and the little humans lost a little enthusiasm when they played. There was still so much love in the group, but they were experiencing a novel sensation – pain. Tamrin began to question the elders and found their answers lacking. Now that their rose-colored glasses had been metaphorically smashed by the rock, they saw the truth. The big humans did not have all the answers. Tamrin tried to follow the new routine but found it stifling. They said as much to the elders, who merely said, “just wait, the wheel always turns.”

 It had been a few months without any new incidents, so the big humans decided to take the community on an outing. The circus was in town, and they thought it would help to distract the little humans from their new normal. Tamrin went along, bored and with low expectations. The circus was a visual feast. In each of the three rings, there was a new wonder to captivate the audience. A lone figure was then spotlighted high above the rings. A slender woman perched upon a silver ring as if she had no cares in the world. Tamrin watched her graceful gravity-defying moves and felt themselves weep. Drawn to the seemingly effortless freedom, they decided to run away and join the circus. They woke up very early, kissed the cat, and made their way to the circus. Tamrin lied about their age and began training with the other performers. It was not as glamorous as it appeared sitting in the audience. It was hard work setting up the tent and taking it down. It was an animal-free circus, so they were thankful they did not have to clean up elephant droppings, but the humans left plenty of messes. After a few months, Tamrin was part of the show. They surprised themselves at how good their balance was and mastered running and flipping atop an enormous, mirrored ball. At first, the applause was invigorating, but all the cities started to run together after a while. The words of the elders came back, “just wait, the wheel always turns.”

 The big top had seemed enormous when Tamrin first saw it many years ago. The constant noise and cacophony held the pain of their shattered dreams at bay, but now, they were stuck. Learning all the tricks and recognizing that most of the magic was a mixture of hard work and smoke and mirrors once again took away their joy. On a whim, Tamrin went to see Grizelda, “The Lady of Mystery,” who had a great scam doing cold readings on the circus goers. “They don’t want the truth,” Tamrin she had once said. “I give them the illusion. It’s comforting.”  To their surprise, she refused to “gaze into your future” for them. “Tamrin,” she said softly, “you already know. The wheel always turns.”  It was true. Tamrin had replaced their loving community for a shiny superficial one. They had made friends here and had grown tremendously, but they were back to searching for what was stolen by that rock. Even though the circus was always on the move, their problems had caught up and found them. “What should I do, Grizelda.” Tamrin asked, once again a scared little human.  “What have you done?” she retorted. “Did you ever think you could defy gravity or be in the spotlight? Will you focus on what you have gained or what you have lost? The energy is the same, but both manifest in different ways.”

 Tamrin knew what they had to do. They went to the firewalker and walked the coals, baptizing their fear and transforming it into purpose. “I’m coming for you,” they said. Tamrin thanked the Ringmaster and surrendered their costume. They walked around the tent, leaving their troubles behind them while understanding they may pick up new ones along the way. Learning how to master the ball had helped prepare Tamrin for instability and uncertainty. The trick was to keep moving and trust in your training. They remembered working in a harness and how many times they fell. It was painful, but they had learned, and eventually, they ran the ball; it did not run them. Tamrin picked up their backpack and never looked back again when the circus came their way. Just wait; the wheel always turns.

 That ends our story for today. Where will your journey take you? You can take a deep breath in and exhale. A deep breath in and exhale. Deep breath in and exhale. And when you're ready, wiggle your toes, wiggle your fingers, and slowly open your eyes.  

Closing: Jazzy synth keyboards. Hope you enjoyed today's segment. Tell a friend. See you next time. 

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