The past week has been an exceptionally crazy one in the state of Oklahoma.
Between the tornadoes, the flooding and the lack of sleep, the whole state seems delirious and confused. But in the moments that really count, humans are prone to one of two things: fight or flight.
No, I’m not talking about punching a tornado or trying to out run one, I’m talking about how your react at a moments notice in dire situations. In a game setting this may refer to deciding to step up and fill some shoes or to take the reins and control as much as you can of a situation.
As someone who grew up on a dead end road five minutes from Tornado Alley in Moore, you’d think I would be used to the sirens or Oklahoma bingo or even be able to read the clouds. All I know is if the clouds have a tint of green and the temperature drops, but the humidity climbs, get underground.
When I was a kid, I remember seeing the May third tornado, the big one that was more than a mile wide, through the double window in my parent’s bedroom. I remember being horrified and running to my dad, who told me that storms move to the north east and if I could see the tornado through those north facing windows, we were okay.
Even though those storms scared the life out of me, I trusted my dad. He was a fireman and knows about all sorts of things: how to change a tire and brake pads, how to pan fry the most delicious chicken I’ve ever eaten and how to comfort a scared kid.
So, in 2013 when my second, and much more direct, encounter with tornadoes occurred from within the Warren Theater, I did everything I could to ensure that I used the wisdom handed down to me to fight for my three younger siblings, then aged 21, 9 and 8. I distinctly remember having my sister’s head in my lap, my body covering as much of her as I could, my arms locked with my 21 year old brother who was doing the same for our nine year old brother.
Although my then 21 year old brother were both scared to death and just praying to make it out with all four of us alive, we were both squelching our fears and fighting to protect the younger siblings. We made it out with out a single scratch on our persons, the only damage being to my driver’s side window which had been busted out by a flying metal paint pan, courtesy of the Lowe’s that was situated next door, thus filling my car with natural debris and insulation.
Needless to say those storms helped shape my life. As a child I gave into the flight side of the equation and was always the one who sat it out in the closets, basements or anywhere deemed safe. As I got older, I took charge of my fear and turned it into fight, which has given way to a new confidence and assurance in myself.
There are moments, quite a few of them, where I still doubt myself or have small panic attacks. Yet, much like Princess Mia in The Princess Diaries 2, I have private meltdowns, pull myself together and make it through with my head held high. Fight doesn’t mean you don’t feel afraid or weak. It just means that there is something bigger, more important and more pressing than my assessment of my ability to handle a situation.
On the other hand, flight doesn’t always mean you are too scared to handle a scenario, it may be the wisest choice in a situation. There are many situations you should run in, when dealing with abusive people, when dealing with snakes and of course, when your coach tells you to take a lap.
Either way you respond, with flight or fight, hang in there Oklahoma, May is almost over.