March 7th, 2011
Location: The Coffee Bean
Time: 2:41 pm
This morning I blacked out on the train and it was one of the most helpless moments of my life. And it was that – just a moment. But as my vision clouded over, my knees buckled, and I groped past commuters, grasping blindly for something to hold onto I was overcome by panic.
So much of the time I pretend I know what I’m doing. That I have direction and confidence. That I am a self-assured woman beholden to no one. I am an island. This morning was a sharp slap across my cheek. Ice water thrown into my face.
As humans, and especially as Americans, we take pride in forging our own paths. Frontier spirit. Individuals. Self-reliant. We don’t know our neighbors. We don’t ask directions. We create enduring TV shows with a legacy of “going where no man has gone before.” We were the first to the moon. We will be the first to land on an asteroid, or a meteor, or Mars.
It is so ingrained in every facet of our lives that we take this so-called self-reliance for granted. We actually think that we are doing it all ourselves. That we truly are going where no man has gone before and we are going there alone.
What are we thinking?
Last night I was subtly derided for “following another man’s lead.” As though my life were a little less than his because he is doing it his own way, not following the path or the lessons of another. He is man, hear him roar. Part of me balked at this. I’m not just a blind follower. I’m my own woman. I make my own decisions. But after this morning, I am pulled-up short.
Yes, I have made the decision to follow someone greater than my own proclivities and selfish ambitions. I believe that Jesus is called the Good Shepherd for very good reason. There is a reason the Gospels tell stories of him healing the blind. I shouldn’t balk at that, I should embrace it. Groping around blindly, running into strangers, and being overwhelmed by panic sucks.
Obviously, there are those of you who don’t agree – who think I’m delusional. But tell me: is there a single event in your life that you can definitively attribute to only your abilities, only your knowledge? Or were you simply standing on the shoulders of the giants who had gone before you? Humans, despite what we fool ourselves into thinking, are not paragons of self-reliance. You might think you don’t need God but don’t tell me you can do it yourself. That you’re forging your own path. That you’re bloody Ibiza.
If that were true, we’d all be staggering around, arms outstretched with beads of cold sweat gathering on our forehead, getting no further than an icy railing that we would cling to as a tide of wandering bodies buffeted us against the wall. We would be eternally stuck on a metro platform.
That sounds like a lot of fun.