I bring this up with my clients on a regular basis, but even I forget at times.  In fact, this was pointed out to me recently so it bears repeating.  There is great wisdom to be found in the safety features of an airplane as presented by the airline staff (whatever they want to be called these days).  Not only could it help you keep from being trampled by your fellow passengers when panic ensues, give you a heads up on where the survival supplies are stored so you have a fighting chance if you are stranded on that deserted island, and inspire you to make all kinds of DIY projects, but it does point out some fundamental principles of life.

sixuntilme.comThe one that seems most profound to me is this:  In the case of sudden cabin depressurization, a mask will drop down from the bulk head above you.  There will be a bag attached to the mask that may not inflate.  This is completely normal.  Grasp the mask firmly, pull it towards you, fit the mask over your mouth and nose and pull the rubber band over your head to secure it in place.  Once you do this oxygen will begin flowing to you.  PUT YOUR OWN MASK ON BEFORE HELPING THE PERSON THAT IS NEXT TO YOU. Yep, self care 101 as presented by Corporate America.  Life is full of irony.

The subtext under this which the stewards and the PR people are trying to relay, politely, is that if you die you are not only no help to anyone else, you’re a hindrance because you are dead weight releasing fluids and gasses that have to be ignored and gotten around by those who aren’t yet dead.  Graphic I know, which is probably why they leave that part out of the speech. But it’s good as a means of helping us remember how important it is.  We’re not here solely as ‘helping others’ machines that should ignore everything else.  In fact, I sometimes think of that as a major sin, if I believed in sin per se’.  Each of us is unique and amazing and no one is better than, more deserving than, or more important that each of us.  “We all special” as the joke goes.  So sacrificing ourselves for others does violence to a creation of the universe, a beauty made of stars, a piece of the divine light, which we are.

If you love people in your life so much that you’re willing to give anything to help them and support them and delight in them, then stop for a moment and ask if you’re willing to do the same or even more for yourself?  Because you are no less worthy and no less in need and probably more so.  And until you put your own mask on, you’re not only at risk of serious injury, you might become a hindrance to the people you love the most.