First Aid Insights

Not what you might expect.  There weren’t any great revelations about doing CPR or dealing with breathing problems.  Instead, Sarah was a very funny instructor.  She could be a regular at the Yuk Yuks Comedy Club.  How refreshing to have a teacher who wanted us kids to have fun. along with learning a whole bunch.  And the first aid manual seemed topnotch – up-to-date, with clear explanations.

I got to experience what I’d experienced before … a sadness at not remembering what to do.  Sarah spoke fast and moved fast and I couldn’t keep up.  When it came time for the hands on, I was often lost.  After my initial panic about this, I found myself sinking into the rhythms of the day, absorbing what I could in the short term, knowing that the manual would help me for many tomorrows.  Contentment washed over me, knowing that I’m a work in progress about addressing emergencies.  I accept my foibles and celebrate my desire to assist human beings when they’re injured.

Sarah was not just a fun machine.  She knew her stuff.  She complimented us on our effort.  She thanked us for our good natured spirit.  And she looked right in our eyes and said, “Do what you can.  If you freeze, maybe your contribution will be to call 911.  And it may be that sometimes all your good efforts won’t save the person’s life.  Honour yourself for trying.  Be good to the human being who wants to help.”

So when I ride my bicycle across Canada next summer, I may keep an injured rider alive until medical help arrives.  I may fall short of that goal.  Or the worst incident may be a small cut.  Whatever the story, all my being is ready to serve.

First Aid

Before I venture forth into the topic at hand, let me talk about right now.  I’m sitting in the restaurant of the Husky House on Highway 401.  I picked a window table because I wanted to have a view of the gigantic Canadian flag that soars above the lanes full of cars.  Minutes ago, I looked out the window to see the pole but the high-flying flag was beyond the overhanging roof.  (Sigh)  My urge to be up close and personal with the symbol of my country was blocked.  Feeling sorry for myself, I again looked lazily out the window.  A car was parked in front of me.  And wonder of wonders, the windshield reflected a flag, stiff in the wind, and brilliantly red and white in the sun!

I’m tempted to go deep into an analysis of what this means but some wisdom is saying not to.  Just smile.


Many topics entered my mind on my recent meditation retreat.  One was first aid.  Over the years, I’ve taken many courses but the knowledge faded.  And apart from small cuts, I never used what I learned.  People told me that in an emergency I would know what to do but I never bought that argument.  I’m sad that I can’t remember much of the course content.  I comforted myself with the thought that since I didn’t have opportunities to practice first aid, naturally the “what to do’s” flew out of my mind.  But that really was no comfort at all.

Tomorrow and Thursday, I’m taking a first aid course in London.  “Oh, Bruce, it’ll be just another in a series of failed attempts to absorb the knowledge.”  Well, that’s a rather silly voice.  I don’t think I’ll listen to you, friend.  How about something completely new?  How about forgiving myself for not being committed enough to have first aid principles stay in my mind?

I am committed this time.  “Why?” I ask.  Because my life is about service, about being present with every human being I meet, about loving without fetters.  If that’s my commitment, then I need to include the times of emergency.  Blood scares me.  So what?  Help anyway.  No breathing scares me.  So what?  Get in there and do what you can.  Not knowing what to do scares me.  Okay … and now it’s time to do something about that.

For years, I’ve called myself a determined person, and I am.  “Suck it up, Bruce.  Bring that determination to all avenues of your life.  Be ready when a fellow human being is in physical trouble.  It could be a dear friend.  It could be my nephew.  It could be a stranger.  All are to be revered.  All deserve to have their life continue.”

I’ll let you know tomorrow night about Day 1.