Staying calm in an unsettling situation
It’s three-thirty in the morning, you see as you roll over to check your iphone, the soft-yellow glare of the screen shining on your face, but still too bright in relation to the darkness of your room. Getting back to the snug, warm part part of your bed, attempting to get warm, you hear again what probably woke you up, since you normally do not get up until 4:40 in the morning. Looking out the window, softly retracting the heavy drapery which does a good job at blocking out light and sound, so whatever made that initial scraping sound outside, is worth to pay any mind to. As you peep outside, blinding light and blistering heat suddenly hits your face, like if someone took out a cloth from a hot oven and pressed it onto your face with force. What you are seeing, is the whole forest that encircles your isolated home on fire, rapidly spreading from tree to tree. That loud snapping sound, was the pine tree that fell and scraped the edge of the house. The fire from the branches, roared on, licking the roof and setting it a-blaze.
You, witnessing this hell-like dream, quickly recollect yourself, not panicking and swiftly slide out of bed. Sprinting to your little brother and cousin who are sleeping in the same room together, you snatch them up into your arms, the family dog staying on your heels, then you bust through the front door, not caring that you just Sparta-kicked it off its hinges. Little brother and the cousin, both nearly five years old, are crying and screaming about the fire blocking your driveway by another pine tree and that we are, “going to burn alive.” Telling them to, “hush-up” and, “quit y’alls crying before I leave y’all here”, you practically throw them into the back seat of your Toyota Tundra Truck, the dog jumped in, her tail in between her legs, wrapping them up with wool blankets, slamming the door shut, you crawl in the driver’s seat with ease. Igniting the engine with your keys, putting the gear into full drive, you put the petal to the metal, right at the burning tree while your relatives are covering their eyes and sobbing, you are shaking pretty bad too, yet calm and reserved. The steel frame protecting the hood and grill of your truck, it successfully smashes through the fallen tree; you feel the shock-wave ripple throughout your body from the impact.
Soon y’all reach the highway and are cruising Eastward, away from the fire, which rose nearly one-hundred and fifty feet into the night sky and the smoke, ten times as high. You begin to think to yourself of what just happened about ten minutes ago, knowing that if you lost your cool, you along with your brother, cousin, and dog, would have been burned alive right about now. So you thank God for keeping you calm and getting out alive with everyone, in a silent prayer, still shaking.
As you can see, staying calm in a stressful/scary situation, can save your and others Lives too. Here’s a brief testimony of a wildfire evacuee that inspired me to write that made-up story for you: “There were flames on both sides of the highway. It was pretty scary,”…”especially when you have your little brother and your little cousin in the car with you, and they’re freaking out, and you have to tell them to calm down” (Rowell).
Perhaps…we should, “Laugh often”…”When you laugh, your muscles relax and the stress hormones in your body go down” (Adams). Take my own personal bullying experience back in seventh grade in the locker room and I won’t name any names.
Everyday, during lunch and P.E. back at the Junior High, there was a large group of kids one grade ahead of me who loved to give me hell. There were seven or six of them, all loud mouths and quite more built than me. Anyways, everyone including myself, finished playing dodgeball, so I am pretty sure it was a Friday. I know that they would pick on me, call me names, flicking my ear as they pass by me, even a shove or two, just to taunt me and I would always take it and not do anything to retaliate because I was simply scared. I wanted to try something new that day in order to possibly get them uninterested in me and that was laughing when they began to throw profanities at me. Well, unfortunatelyÂ I’m unable to recall what exactly happened, but I know I just laughed whenever they bullied me and that really helped me with not being so scared. So if you are being harassed by others, just laugh if it’s verbal. I promise that you will not be really scared nor as shaky.
Eventually, their verbal teasing, threats, and the occasional shove, turned into slapping and punching. Of course, these events took place whenever an adult or teacher was not looking. I was growing tired of this constant abuse, so I decided to stand up for myself (it was nearing the end of my seventh grade year, after the STAAR test). I began to look up fighting videos and re-watched the movie “Sherlock Holmes” for the fight scenes over and over until the last day of school and I felt confident that I would take down these guys one-on-one. But I was still shaking just thinking about it and started to tear up when I got close to my first target. Again, I forgot what I said, but I know I did chicken out and I regret not beating up my bullies.
Think about this, “How can you expect someone to be confident when this is his or her first time fighting? You have to believe in your training and believe in your techniques” (Puu). I was not anything Mr. Puu just explained; I was a coward and cowards lose their honor. I have yet to gain mine back.
Late at night, almost midnight, with absolutely no moon nor starlight to light the vast prairie you and your fellow men treck with unease. The grass is a foot high, really slick that is sticking to your combat boots and the tip of your AR-15. The thickest of fog you could ever imagine, is annoyingly spooky, as you can not even see your own boots, but you and your men bravely go on, across this haunted Texas Prairie. Now the only noise you hear, is the hushed breathing and footsteps of you and your squad mates, that is, until you hear a high-pitched screech from behind you for about two seconds then…silence. When everyone heard that, all y’all stopped dead in y’alls tracks. The five other men, you know by instinct, are looking at you, even though no one could see each other. The only way to not get separated, was the rope that you and your team had tied to each other about five hours ago before walking onto this immense expanse of land. You tap the rope that is attached to you twice, signalling to them to get flat on their chests and do not move, just look and listen. Y’all wait for the same heart wrenching shriek again for five minutes, just…waiting. Soon, you can not hear your boys breathing anymore. It grew so quiet, that you could “hear” silence and you can actually hear the blood flowing to your ears, yearning to pick up any sound to turn the coming painful headache you begin to start feeling. Then, out of nowhere, you hear the rapid approach of what sounds like feet, from behind you and quickly accompanied by the same, terrifying screech that sounded just like a Woman wailing and a deranged screech owl put together.
You immediately jump to your feet, urging the squad on to sprint as fast as they can and you tell the caboose man to unload his machine gun at whatever was chasing y’all. Running at top speed, bringing your legs up to your chest, in fear of getting snagged on something or getting tripped by an occasional deer that happened to be sleeping. Your chest and legs begin to feel very heavy and are hurting from sprinting for about five minutes. Breathing is becoming very difficult and quite the challenge. Suddenly, you feel a violent tug at where the rope knots off of you and you are no longer anchored off by it. For whatever is chasing you, got a hold of your men all at once, you are now alone, still running towards nowhere, through the fog, just hearing that quick rustle of grass behind you, knowing that…thing is closing in. The wind began to pick up finally, though you know your strength is now failing you, “just a little bit longer!” You think to yourself desperately while starting to slow down, your breaths coming out in short gasps, the wind at full speed of nearly seventy miles per hour blowing in from behind, lending your feet “wings”.
No more than five seconds later, you burst through a large bush and onto a busy highway, your rifle lying on the concrete beside you. You close your eyes, expecting to get devoured or dragged by whatever creature did to your comrades about fifteen minutes ago. Miraculously, nothing happened, just vehicles whizzing by and the wind, blowing in your face, choking you. Raising your arm to your nose and mouth to breathe, you get up and when you do, you drop on your knees then puke your guts out.
So,”…breathing techniques can actually help calm the body to respond in these stressful situations in the most effective way” (Klimas).
In conclusion, staying calm in all bad, stressful, and scary situations, all you need to do is, just keep your cool and breathe deeply. Do not freak out and you will be just fine. 🙂