The Guardians

Mumbles Lifeboat Station

Guardians of the sea.
Sailing on through calm and storm.
How grateful we are.

This is a photo of the old Life Boathouse at Mumbles, in Swansea, Wales. I believe that it has since been replaced by a more modern structure.

Nevertheless, we are grateful for the work and, sometimes, sacrifice of the intrepid people who risk their lives, sometimes for those who foolishly thought they could tame the sea with insufficient safeguards in place.

Life can be like that. We can try to go through life with little or no regard for the risks involved, because, in our estimation, “It will never happen to me.”

Yet, “it” does happen to so many people who thought that. So many people get into difficulties simply because they did not assess the risk. This can arise in many areas.

Physical Risk

I have recently read a number of posts which discuss dangerous activities: Hang-gliding, rock climbing, bungee jumping, etc. Many organisers now ask participants to sign disclaimers saying that neither they not their family will hold the organiser responsible for injury or death. Now, apart from what that says about the organiser’s confidence in his or her own equipment, surely it should give the participant pause for thought.

Intellectual Risk

I call this intellectual risk because it covers so many other areas.

Consider the person who fails to control his tongue. He may simply open his (or her) mouth without thinking about what he is about to say, and then cannot understand why the listener gets upset. Or maybe he is so convinced of his own position that he cannot understand how he could possibly be wrong and, therefore, it must be the listener who needs to sort himself out.

Or what about the person who is given an opportunity to redeem himself but fails to take it. So often such a person is so focused on his own agenda that he fails to notice that he is being given an opt-out clause. It’s like a criminal who is so proud of his ability to pick a lock that he almost boasts about it rather than deny being in the building.

Also, there are many people who cannot see the long-term effects of their actions. They have a desire for instant gratification, regardless of the consequences. This is particularly evident in cases of substance abuse. Former drug addicts have lamented to me about their sudden memory lapses. Former (and I recognise that many prefer the term “recovering”) alcoholics have bemoaned the damage that they have done to their bodies. But it was all in the interests of instant gratification.

Risk to Others

Then there is the possibility of risk to other people. This usually happens because someone feels an inordinate sense of entitlement. They feel that their rights are being trampled on, even as they trample the rights of others. It shows up in the situation where parents neglect their children just so the parents can have a good time. They don’t see it as harming the children as long as the parents’ desires are satisfied. Then they blame everyone else when the children are taken into care by Social Services.

Be Your Own Guardian

Blaming other people for our predicament doesn’t work. Everyone (apart from the person laying the blame) can see right through this ploy. There is only one person that we can rightly blame, and that is ourselves. Yes. I am aware that there will be people out there who take exception to this view. Do not misunderstand me. I am aware that there have been people who were so badly abused as children, and even as babies, that they have grown up with dire consequences. Babies have been born drug addicts because their parents, particularly their mothers, have been too selfish to care for them, properly.

Yet this does not alter the fact that there are far more people who have overcome their past. They have beaten their circumstances. They have outgrown their heritage and become what their parents never could have dreamt of being. Look around you. Look at all the people that you know who have changed their lives for the better.

People raised in families where anger and violence were the way of life have become the most placid peacemakers you could ask for. Many mental health practitioners were once mental health patients. Many former substance abusers have become substance abuse counsellors. Why?

Because they all took responsibility for their own lives and actions.

Mindfulness helps us to do that. It helps us to be aware of what we are doing, and what the risks are. We become more aware of what other people are feeling and the effect it has on them. We are more comfortable with our own circumstances, even though we may be suffering extreme physical or emotional pain. And, when faced with baseless accusations, rather than fight back and give credence to the accuser’s view, we sit calmly and wait for the accuser to prove himself wrong.

We are the guardians of our own future. Let’s use that privilege wisely.

© All photographs and articles are the copyright of Michael at Harcourt 51 unless stated otherwise. You are welcome to reproduce them for non-commercial purposes with my written permission. Also, I do not endorse any specific therapeutic techniques or interventions. Please take professional advice where appropriate.


6 thoughts on “The Guardians

  1. these are such important words, michael. many people fail to understand that they are mortal beings and push the limits until something happens that wakes them up. we can only hope that the consequences are not too huge.


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