If you were wondering where Monday’s blog was, it was resting safely in my mind during a period of rest that I desperately needed. I was led to an article I wrote a few years ago, whose principles I needed reminding of in my present moment. In looking at this, I can definitely see how my writing style has been evolving. I’m now also very aware that the following principle has been a consistent struggle for me. Enjoy, and I pray that this helps those (like me) who are deeply moved by compassion to do what they need to do first. Here it is:
One fine morning, I boarded an airplane on the way to somewhere in the world. I barely made the flight on time because the days before that, and up until that morning, I was running around like crazy trying to get everything done in time before I left… My heart is big, I’m thankful for that. But because of that I constantly try to make sure everyone else is alright before I even take care of my own needs. I’m concerned about my brothers and sisters in Zambia, my family in Texas, my people in Alberta, my fellow warriors in Toronto, the young kids up in the favelas in Brazil who tried to sell me drugs, the strong people of Rwanda who are moving forward after the genocide, and really anyone else I’ve met in my lifetime. Or even anyone else I’ve heard about in my lifetime, ha. So this morning was no different. In making sure I got to see everyone before I left, I hadn’t packed my bags. By the way, I’m so thankful for grace!
So I sit down on the plane and buckle up my seatbelt because usually I’m asleep before the plane takes off and I don’t want to be bothered with all that stuff. I normally sleep through the entire takeoff, too, which is pretty amazing I think (either that or I need to get more sleep). This time, for some reason, I was awake and alert while we prepared for liftoff. If you’ve been on a plane you know that the next thing you would experience is a captivating 15 minute presentation of the flight and safety announcements. As the flight attendant (not to be called a stewardess as one young woman very firmly reminded me earlier in my life), anyway as the flight attendant started going through her animated actions with a smile on her face that I’m positive wasn’t genuine, something caught my attention. She went through the routine as usual. She pointed to all of the exits, went through the seatbelt procedures, and all of the rest of the stuff. Then the presentation showed that in case of a drop in cabin pressure, oxygen masks will come down and that it is important to make sure that you put on your own oxygen mask before you assist anyone else, including children and the elderly.
Put on your own oxygen mask first… For some reason that hit me like a ton of bricks that day… Put on your own oxygen mask first… In an airplane emergency, if you don’t, you won’t have oxygen and you won’t be able to help anyone else as a result. Everyone hurts if you don’t take care of your air first. I realized that in life, if I don’t take care of myself (sleep, food, hygiene, exercise, financial stability, etc.) then I’m pretty much useless to help anyone else. Not only would I be unable to function, but I wouldn’t even be able to help the people I want to help without taking care of my basic needs… Now don’t get it twisted. We shouldn’t just adopt a selfish attitude and only think of ourselves, but we should do our best to take care of our basic NEEDS before we go out trying to be Superman or Wonderwoman. This isn’t just important so that we can help people, but also so that we can be an example to the people that look up to us. A while back, I was doing some work with gang prevention in Toronto and telling these youth that education is important and that there are ways to make ends meet by doing the right thing. Meanwhile, I hadn’t written the paper that was due the next day and I had no idea how I was going to pay my rent that month… actions speak louder than words. People will hear what you do, and not always what you say. Put on your own oxygen mask first.
And I realize that even now, there are other things I could be doing instead of writing this. But thankfully, I have my oxygen mask on tight enough that I can afford to write this. I’m hoping that this helps you get your oxygen mask on, too. Not selfishly, but valuing your self and understanding that you’re worth taking good care of. In case you didn’t get it yet, put on your own oxygen mask first.