We All Want To Feel Safe

Hi Everyone,

We all want to feel safe. Like children on a summer road trip. Sure, you are open to adventures that your parents planned as a family activity, but only because you know you are under the protective cover of your parents. They will lead you through the hiking trails with all the faith placed on the USGS topography map, even though they would not admit that you were hopelessly lost at one point. Sure, you can order any item second from the top (price-wise) on the menu in the restaurant, as choosing the most expensive item on the menu is childish.

You don’t have to know proficiently how to operate the car’s navigation system so that you can figure out the shortest and fastest way to the destination, taking into consideration possible traffic conditions along the way, be it seasonal or accident-caused. Sitting comfortably in the back seat with your favorite soft drink in the cupholder and ears plugged into your very own music, you don’t need to know how… just when. “Are we there yet?”

This is your chance to amuse yourself with a random spontaneous act and feel it’s okay because you are completely safe to do whatever you want to do. Go ahead and pick up a hubcap on the side of the country road in Vermont. I know you always wanted one in your room. It would be so cool to have such a non-functional industrial item that you cannot buy in the mall. It’s okay to explore a little. Let your guard down as you are under protection.

There is nothing to worry about. You are one of us. We take care of each other and we protect ourselves from whatever is out there. Tribal, herd instinct, survival advantage of a group, whatever you call it. The strongest is there to protect us so that we all eat and follow his or her lead to the next patch of green field where we can graze for a while. You are inside what Japanese call “Wa”, the ring of belonging where everyone takes care of each other. Everyone wishes nothing but your well being, and you wish theirs.

As an adult, if we believe that such a world could exist somewhere discoverable, where would you look? Or would you look at all since such a naive feeling has lost its allure a long time ago and you’d rather stay slightly guarded than get burned unexpectedly.

A couple of months ago, while I was almost asleep on my couch around 10:30pm, I saw flashing lights coming to a complete stop in front of our gate. I waited for a second to see if it would move away, but it didn’t. I went outside to see what was going on. As it turned out, the Arlington Rescue Squad truck had an engine trouble on their way to a rescue mission. Before you know it, a police car stopped behind the truck for extra flashing lights so people would not run into it. Then the second police car came to provide forward coverage. As I approached the truck and asked if they needed any help, a voice came out of the truck. “Is that Yoshio?” It was our plumber, Rick.

They said they had a second truck at the base station and one of the police men offered to give them a ride back to the base. Meanwhile, the rest of us hung around the broken truck, waiting for the tow truck to show up, talking about the technical specification of this $167,000 vehicle where the second battery is located somewhere under the hood. Luckily they had an extended warranty to cover any engine issues as small town budgets for the rescue operations are very limited. As a matter of fact, outside of the midweek day time coverage, all of the squad members are voluntary members. One of the squad said that they had seven calls last weekend. He said that one of the members tonight was a 17 year old volunteer, who under the national rules, may not touch a patient or drive a truck. However, he would have so much experience by the time he turns 18 next March, he will be a valuable member of the squad.

Then it dawned on me. This unassuming plumber, Rick, who is always telling me that he can’t wait to stop working as a plumber, has a second life as a volunteer rescue squad member. We worked together to fix the steam shower and I actually helped to unscrew the Kohler faucet handle with my duct tape trick. Yes, I have seen the plumber’s butt crack several times unwittingly. But he never mentioned that he was a volunteer rescue member. He just wouldn’t. Now that I know that Rick has a different priority, I have a totally different impression of him. Knowing that he is on call, I feel a little safer tonight.

Come to Ormsby Hill and remember how it feels to be inside the “Wa.”

In pursuit of trust and belonging…

Yoshio