When I was in my teens I developed an unexpected preoccupation with special forces soldiers. I practically inhaled books written by ex-Delta Force combatants, SAS soldiers and any textbook that described the selection process and the type of human being that would pursue such a life.
Slightly off middle, I know.
Then 9/11 struck. I sat astounded as the world viewed firefighters and police officers – seemingly unperturbed by horror – rush to strangers’ defense. To this day I have hundreds of newspaper clippings recounting tales of bravery…
As I became older I realized my interest: I am fascinated by the type of person who acts contrary to human nature when they have no option but to act.
Firefighters run into burning buildings.
Special forces soldiers run toward gunfire.
Then tonight, as I watched news story after news story, I felt a stab of longing for my late mom. She was a nurse, you see. And I know she loved us kids more than life, but if she had been alive today I know exactly where she’d be…right in the f***ing front lines, baby.
Nurses. If you know one, you need not read further. Coz you know. They walk around with an air of unawareness-of-self. In a room full of people they won’t be in the front, chatting and laughing and entertaining. But if tragedy struck, they’d step forward from the shadows with the confidence and focused effectiveness of any soldier or firefighter or police officer.
My mom had a very – and I do mean ‘very’ – limited bullshit tolerance. But so did her nursing friends. And as I grew older I realized my mom wasn’t short tempered, she just had no energy or excitement for the everyday crap we keep ourselves busy with.
They stand with their fingers on torn arteries all day, they’re not going to become all aflutter over little knickknacks.
We are all entombed in our little nests. Yet I’ve never felt this connected to you. And you. And you over there. My dad would have said: yes, the shit that we are all in is equally deep…
I wonder if nurses, doctors, medics, technicians, scientists, firefighters, municipal workers, supermarket cashiers, truck drivers and every other human being currently ensuring our health and comfort know how grateful we are. I wonder if they also feel the disconnected connectedness.
So…if you are any of the above…thank you. May you be blessed with health and happiness all the days of your life. And may those days be many.
I know the world is on fire. I know fear is sticking to us like moisture on a tropical beach. But tonight I feel awe and gratitude…and maybe even a little jealousy.
For as long as I live, I will never be the type of person to run into a burning building…I will never be a member of the hope-bringers.