Stay Safe, Stay Creative
Life is full of unexpected happenstances. Some of them are desirable surprises, bringing about joy and euphoria in abundance that you just want to shout from the mountaintops (or social media) so others can share in it with you. Others are far less welcome, causing chaos and sometimes derailing life altogether for a period of time. This blog is about one of the latter.
Father’s Day morning found me comfortably reading in bed while my wife and daughter generously prepared a delicious breakfast of French toast topped with yogurt, mixed berry compote, and toasted coconut flakes. I know, it’s okay to be jealous. I was so looking forward to a quiet day with my girls, as the previous year—my first Father’s Day—my wife and I went on a breakfast date and were unable to return home due to a funeral at the cemetery next to our house full of drunken, gun-toting “mourners” milling around and doing donuts in their cars up and down the street. For several hours we couldn’t get home to our daughter, who was sweetly waiting to shower me with Father’s Day surprises she’d prepared with my sister and brother-in-law. I was frustrated at the funeral attendees’ lack of consideration for others and emotional to be missing out on special time with my daughter. With those memories fresh in my mind, I was eager create more positive ones this year.
Everything started out swell. Breakfast was to die for. We cuddled as a family in the bed, laughing and playing together. Then, I received a text message from friends of ours who were out of town: “Hey guys. Did someone speak to y’all this morning?” My heart immediately grew heavy; conversations that start like that rarely take an uplifting turn, in my experience. “No… What’s up?” I replied. It turned out that our friends’ home had been broken into the previous evening. Seven men armed with guns—SEVEN!—scaled their security wall, detained their night guard, used a pickaxe to force entry into the house, roughed up the house sitter (who, mercifully, wasn’t seriously harmed physically), and stole a few random items and some cash.
Needless to say, the day kind of spiraled after that. (What is it about Father’s Day here?) The community of expats here is fairly tight-knit, so when something like this occurs, we all feel its impact and implications for what’s possible in the future. Suddenly, the recurring conversations around safety and security were brought back to the forefront of everyone’s minds. What further precautions could we take? Where were the weak points of our respective properties that we could address? What budget items could be sacrificed to free up funds to invest more in security?
The tough reality is there’s always something more you can do. No matter how many layers of security you put in place, if an intruder is determined to get in, they will. And that’s true anywhere in the world, not just here in Lesotho. The goal isn’t necessarily to prevent a break-in from happening—though that would most definitely be the preferred outcome—but to ensure that if one does there are protections in place to keep our families safe and give time for external help to arrive.
The lengths to which we go to preserve a sense of safety may seem extreme. Believe me, the fact that our property looks a bit like a prison yard due to the tall security wall topped with razor wire is not lost on me. However, according to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, security and safety are considered basic human needs. Without a sense of safety, higher level psychological and self-fulfillment needs are hindered, if not impossible to achieve. In order to reach our highest level of self-actualization, our basic needs need to be met.
As a student and a voice actor respectively, this is incredibly important for my wife and I. Between her school and my job, we both require lots of creativity in order to succeed at what we do. When our community experiences something that threatens our sense of safety, it pulls the rug out from under us, toppling our creative endeavors and diverting all of our attention to “fixing” the breach of our fundamental needs.
This isn’t the first time we’ve experienced scary circumstances like this, both directly or indirectly. It also probably won’t be the last time, either—though I’d love to be proven wrong on that point. The circumstances we currently exist in require that we spend more time and energy establishing a sense of safety than we might somewhere else. We know complete security is never guaranteed, but these situations remind us how holistically important it is to do what we can to establish this basic need as firmly as possible. They also help us practice gratitude for the times and ways in which we are secure, for the opportunities we have to move beyond our base human experience into the upper echelons of beauty, creativity, and meaningful relationships. These things are so incredibly valuable and they’re worth fighting for and preserving.
Have you ever had your base sense of security threatened in a significant way? Did that affect your life in a holistic way? What did you do re-establish that basic need and work your way back into higher levels of self-actualization? The world we live in is far from perfect, but when we take the time to care well for ourselves and one another, we can achieve some pretty incredible things.
Until next time, friends, keep telling stories.
Voiceover Artist | Storyteller
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