I had a really bad experience the other night. I was about to prepare dinner in my apartment for my kids. I poured some oil in a pan and set it on the stove top. The phone rang, it was a friend, and she asked me to look up some information online. Well, as a result of my negligence and stupidity, the oil burst into flames and all heck broke loose. My daughter freaked out, the smoke detector was wailing, and my apartment was filled with thick smoke.
Thankfully, no one was hurt and the damage was confined to the stove and the cabinets above it. Even though Natalie was very upset, I am proud with how she reacted. She was very alert and responsive and did not ‘freeze’ in a crisis situation. When I opened the door and told her to run outside, she took the time to stop and make sure her brother was right behind her. She was my little hero that evening, and it was one of those moments that, as a parent, just makes your chest burst with pride.
Which got me thinking about other situations in life that force us to react. Those moments where there is no time to think, just to do. How will I react in a true crisis situation? Am I up to the task?
I like to think that I am clutch in situations like that. That my fears and uncertainties would take a backseat to getting the job done. I like to believe that I inherited that quality from my dad, a man who was many times Johnny on the spot…..literally. But no amount of planning, thinking or dreaming can truly prepare you for that moment when push comes to shove. You won’t know until you are faced with the overwhelming fear and weight of the situation, and all you can do is believe that you can.
They say that in crisis situations people develop the ability to do extraordinary things. A small, petite woman picking up one end of a car so as to rescue her children. People running unscathed through a wall of flame so as to escape certain death. And we have all heard of the hiker who cut off his own arm after it had become trapped under a boulder. If we stop and think of those scenarios, we will convince ourselves that we can’t. That it’s impossible. Unthinkable.
However, in the heat of the moment we are capable of doing just about anything. We are able to overcome in order to live, both physically and metaphorically.
My daughter rose to the occasion and prevented a bad situation from getting worse. And I like to think that if a five year-old can find the courage to be strong, then all of us can. We all have it inside of us to stand up and make it happen. At least, that’s what I like to think. But we’ll never really know until we have to.