Thursday, October 3, 2013

Helmet Head?

Common sense ain't what it used to be. The self-evident black or white of yore has fragmented into modern shades of grey. Ethics is debatable. Rules are for others, and entitlement is the common denominator. Dr. Tom Olson urges us not to die with our helmets on. Indeed, our self protection and need for security engenders such a fear-based society that we are stultifying ourselves to death. Despite our seeming freedoms and individuality it is our protectionism against others and the environment and our future misfortune that ultimately is abrogating unto ourselves those very liberties. It is debilitating, limiting, and enervating. We want everything neatly spelled out for us. We eschew the dictionary. Tell me what to do. We mistake lack of action for security, and rather than be invigorated by self-reliance, self-actualization, and independence, we subsume ourselves to security and selfishness. The paradox of wanting what's right for 'me' is that it captures my concerns, has me grabbing for a helmet, and has me warding off the potential I have to soar unencumbered by the trappings of assurance against any mishaps. That is, the world needs to protect me; I want insurance against complications.

Mentoring, multidirectional, and multifaceted, Dr. Tom takes us through his longevity of marriage (and the discourse needed to keep it alive); the trade off of freedom for security; the need for focus on an internal locus of control rather than an external locus; and the endemic 'woulda, coulda, shoulda' thinking that encumbers our lives. A 160 page straight-shooting narrative comprising eleven short chapters, his topics range through our modern idiom of expectations that others look after us; our loss of appreciation for our communal and familial histories; our possibility to be extraordinary within what appears commonplace; our being a victim of the past rather than by current deeds determining our future; our necessary choices of friends, family and collaborative partners; our being authentic rather than passive; our being optimistic rather than being cynical, skeptical, and pessimistic; our easy proclivity for practicing the sanguine, choleric, phlegmatic, or melancholic dispositions endemic to our natures, without consciousness; our possibility to be c.r.e.a.t.i.v.e without being acrimonious; and our need to be risk-takers, inventors, and problem solvers, rather than our reliance or expectation that others ought protect, rescue, succour and secure my life for me. A manual for mankind, Dr. Tom's booklet is a quick and easy read, and like a magic carpet everywhere, will transport the reader to vistas of life as it mighta, oughta, coulda be.

At issue is making the magic become real. And that, as we know, is up to each one of us. But even as we gingerly step aboard the conveyance to a possible new paradigm of involvement in life, we want our helmets of security. We want assurance that others have been there before us, and succeeded. We want immunization against the unexpected, the accidental, the incremental, and the ineluctable. Our innate fears need to be assuaged. And we want someone else, if at all possible, to take the reins; then at the very least, if things go tipsy-topsy, we've got someone else to blame.

Dr. Tom and I grew up in an age when we were sent outdoors to play, to make our own way, and to be responsible for our own mistakes. There were no helmets. There was little or no mollycoddling. There was an expectation that we practice common sense.


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