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Having Courage and Gratitude

I would like to share a recent experience of mine that reinforced a couple of concepts that we subscribe to on a regular basis and how these can apply to not only self-defence but all aspects of our lives.

A few weeks ago, I was flown into a remote northern community for business purposes which was scheduled to be an overnight trip, returning the following day. As fate would dictate, the evening of our arrival, the northern hemisphere of our province was hit with a storm dumping approximately 5”- 6” inches of snow and winds of up to 85 km/h. This storm continued through the night and into the early morning cancelling all flights out of the community for the day. To paint a clearer picture, the community with which I was visiting at this time of year is fly in only, until the winter roads are established, early spring.

Subsequently, all flights were pushed over to the following day with my flight rescheduled for two days later. To add to the situation, we had planned a family celebration the following day, the date before my rescheduled flight and the community with which I was visiting, was recovering from a traumatic event the day before our arrival, essentially shutting down some of the services. On top of it all, the community was without power for three hours and SMS texts were going out but not being received, making it impossible to communicate with family members. I was also scheduled to teach classes back home on the date of the storm and on the following day.

Needless to say, the situation was creating a good amount of anxiety and stress.

Firstly, I had to accept that the circumstances were beyond my control and make the best of the given situation. I wasn’t the only person stranded here and there was still room at the inn. We were able to acquire food for a couple of days and once the initial anxiety had settled, realized how beautiful the area was with the fresh covering of snow. The people stranded and living within the small community were very friendly and accommodating which helped put the situation at ease.

Although we were booked with one airline to leave within the two days of the storm, there was a second and alternate airline which still had flights departing the following day. So, instead of relying on the one option, we began to explore the alternative options and having done so, were successful in booking an earlier flight out than the one originally rescheduled on.

Having arrived at the airport for our flight, we observed a plane arrive from the same booked airline and were getting excited about finally being able to return home.  This quickly changed when we were advised by staff that this was a different flight and that our flight had once again been delayed, as there was another storm rolling in from the west.

At this time, we were preparing to return to the motel and look at alternative options when the pilot entered the booking area and asked for the two passengers that were to be boarding this specific flight from our location. Again, for illustration purposes, the community with which we were stranded has a total population of approximately 4000 and the airport area consists of a small building used for receiving passengers who are either debarking or embarking on their travels. We were all crammed in close quarters and twelve of us scheduled on the delayed flight had heard the same page.

Outside of my character, I asked the pilot specifically where the flight was destined for and received the reply that it was returning to our home city with one brief stop for refueling. Having already initiated the conversation with the pilot, I asked if there was any room for four more passengers, two of my colleagues and a new acquaintance in the same predicament. The pilot being accommodating checked the passenger manifest and made a brief call, confirming within 5 minutes that there were just four seats left. Without having been officially added to the manifest or receiving a boarding pass, we were all able to board the flight and had the proper paperwork in place by the time we stopped for 20 minutes to refuel and continue to our final destination.

While midflight, our newfound friend and my colleagues shared their gratitude for inquiring about the flight and availability as it turned out that all other flights were once again being rerouted, delayed, or cancelled due to weather conditions. I also took time to share my gratitude for the entire experience as it aided in my growth as a person and verified much of what I teach on a regular basis.

By now, you’re most likely sitting back and saying to yourself, “this is a nice story Sean, but what does it have to do with self-defence?”

Well, the short answer is, everything!

Although this wasn’t a life-threatening situation, it did impose on our daily activities and as such, created anxiety and added stress, which will also be present in situations where one may have to protect themselves and or family. If anyone is familiar with Tony Blauer’s ‘3 Golden Rules’, the first thing that we had to do is ‘accept’ the situation that we found ourselves in, which we did, reluctantly at first, but eased into it as we applied the second rule, ‘get challenged’. We all had commitments back home and used family and our other obligations to motivate us into action. Finally, we used the third rule, ‘don’t stop thinking’ to establish accommodations, food, and water, which was undrinkable within the community, and look at other options to secure flights out, as the first solution wasn’t the best option.

You can apply these basic principles or something similar to any situation that may challenge you whether you’re being accosted by a group of people outside of your place of employment or were a victim of crime.

As for engaging the pilot, most persons would not inquire about availability fearing that the answer would be no. There were four of us, not including the other passengers with earshot of the pilot, and only one had to step outside their comfort zone to ask the questions regardless of the consequences. Fear of the unknown will promote inaction or at least, hesitation, which in this case would have had us miss this opportunity. This anecdote could be applied to any given opportunity that presents itself to you, such as a vacation, well deserved promotion or an individual who is following and has taken an interest in you.

Finally, be grateful for these situations that come up in life as we continue to learn and grow from each one of them, regardless of the outcome. My situation provided me, and now hopefully you, with some incite. If I had not asked, we would never have known if the opportunity was there and maybe regretting it as we could have been grounded for several more days.

All four of us did make it home much earlier than anticipated and in my case, was able to celebrate with family that evening, something else that I was grateful for.

Have a safe and happy season!

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