Monday, February 09, 2009

DON'T PANIC--9 little letters to help you keep your cool

Today is brought to you by two very important words:


"Don’t panic, especially when things get bad. Remain focused. React to danger sooner, not later. Don’t listen to rumors, just deal with what you know. Stay indoors, stay informed and don’t leave unless you have to...Fighting will draw attention and slow you down, so don’t do it. Don’t panic, keep moving, drink lots of water and avoid people." ~Popular Mechanic Reader

My apologies for the sporadic "Word of the Day" posts. I was about to force myself into temporarily abandoning the project for the next few weeks...and then I realized how necessary these little words are to my sanity and survival.

I have to be honest here...I have more paintings to do in the next 3 weeks then I know what to do with. I am in full-on panic mode. I find it nearly impossible to function, much less breathe, unless I'm doing one thing: painting. What I'm noticing is that panic is a dangerous thing. It is debilitating. It distorts perspective. It's not getting me anywhere.

I got lost deep in the north woods once--and I panicked. You know that white-fear feeling? The feeling that races into your fingertips and the length of your body? The feeling that overwhelms you with instant confusion? A feeling of desperate peril? Yes, that feeling. Words to the wise: never panic. I got lucky and accidentally stumbled upon some hunters building a deer stand in the woods. It was getting late. I've never been so relieved to see people in my whole entire life.

Another time I got lost while kayaking in dense fog in the middle of a great big ice encrusted lake. It was nearly winter and the water was hypo-thermic temperatures--but it was so beautiful that I couldn't help but paddle just a little ways into the fog to see what it looked like. Mmmm...enchanting. But did you know that it is just about impossible to steer a kayak straight without a point of reference? Neither did I. When you turn to look behind you, it only makes it worse. I was found later that day by Search and Rescue, the fire department, and police department--as well as my dad and brother who were also dumb enough to go out in a canoe looking for me. I've never been more embarrassed in my whole life. That was waaaay more embarrassing than getting lost in the woods and even more embarrassing than the time I passed out at the front of the church in front of an entire congregation.

I also nearly got lost in the Himalayas during a 3 week trek. My group and I were coming down from a 17,000 foot pass and bad weather rolled in. There were avalanches all around us. Despite nearly impossible visibility and high altitude delirium, we kept our heads on straight, stayed together, and eventually found our way. Coming into a village never felt so good.

Ok...I'm starting to feel safer now. But my point? Never panic.

25 (mostly large, some very large) paintings isn't nearly as life-threatening as cold water, mountains, and bad weather. It's scary, but not life threatening. It only becomes life threatening when I forget to breathe. But this is what I mean when I mention distorted perspective.

I was going to put the "Word of the Day :: Living Life One Word at a Time" project on hold...but, as you can see, it has become a survival tool.

Seriously, people. This is about survival.

These letters are part of an ongoing project:
"WORD OF THE DAY :: living life one word at a time."
Today's words are DON'T PANIC. Remember: Panic will get you nowhere.
See more letters and words at my Patch of Sky Etsy shop, here.

**shark attack image borrowed from Travel Nooks.


Rowena said...

I once saw a tv show about how to stay alive in life threatening situations. We were at a beach house, and watched the show instead of going to the beach.

I couldn't stop watching, and every now and again, I still yell out our mantra from that show: "swim parallel to shore!" It's how you survive if caught in a rip tide. never try to swim in to shore, just let it take you where it needs to go until you're out of it and can get back in to shore.

We thought it was a joke when we would call it out, but it's so about life. Don't fight that tide, just go with it. Even if you end up not quite at the point you thought you would, you will make it through.

daisies said...

don't panic ~ yup, its true ... i once got lost in a canoe on a river as night fell. my cousin and i couldn't find the road, we came across a bear and all the rcmp were out looking for us. yeah. don't panic is always the way :)

you can so do it!!


Barbara said...

You go! We're all pulling for you! Your work is so beautiful it'll show you how to get through this.

Jessie said...

rowena and daisies...i would be laughing all day if everyone would just post their "panic" stories. hahaha! oh my...

barbara...thank you for vote of confidence and support. who knows, the tight deadline might push me towards something wonderful and unexpected. i'll starve to death if i keep painting at molasses slow rate i've been going at. :)-

Melba said...

Wow Jessie you have had such incredible life experiences! ~ all preparing you for your life today. The universe is wise!

Deirdre said...

This is exactly what I needed to read today. I've been in a state of panic all week about things that aren't going to go away anytime soon. Thank you for pulling me back to shore.