This post follows on from this one: [link:Living without a goal.]
Of course living without goals is all very well if you’re stuck up a mountain with a lovely view and the villagers bring you bowls of rice every morning.
Some one had to farm the rice and cook it. You have bills to pay. I have to find the rent. Sue has to feed her children.
You know that moment when you get home and drop your bags on the floor, maybe you put the kettle on or start the water for a bath? What ever your little ritual is. You sit down in your favourite chair or you throw yourself on the bed and all of a sudden, aahhhh that’s the moment you know you can relax. You’re safe and for a moment you can stop and take stock. You’re home.
Arriving back in Brighton this totally fails to happen.
But it’s ok. I have my “Fall Back” position.
I like that expression. It’s so ambiguous. “Fall Back!”
We use that expression in everyday language but I heard a very specific definition from this old guy Bill who had served with the special forces. He said your fall back position is the last bit of defensible cover that you called a fall back position.
You’ve got your first fall back position probably just on the border of enemy territory. Then you go in, find safe ground and move on from that, leaving a trail of locations you know you can defend along the way. Of course on the way out you might just be running like hell trying to run faster than a bullet. But you can make some of those fall back positions real comfy and hide things there.
I liked this idea and accidentally started using it with people who were going through critical incidents in their life that threatened their mental and physical health. They knew they were going to have a hard time. The road ahead was unknown and unpredictable.
But each step of the way they were making progress. And if they could imagine, if they could really see a life that they wanted to live and feel how good that life was going to feel, then they could keep your eye on that future and cope with what they had to go through every day.
And every time they had a success. Every time they had a revelation. Every-time they realised things were better than they had been the day before I would have them remember that feeling, and remember all the other times that had happened, and remind them of where they had been when we first met so they could enjoy the progress they’d made.
And that would become the new fall back position. The place to go when the road got tough again.
But the thing is, many of these people I worked with were wiser than me. They started putting all those fall back positions together and when they realised they were in control of how they felt they simply decided to feel good all the time for no reason.
This one old guy Bill caught me with a twinkle in his eye, He says:
“So what. I’m going to die.
So what there are no gods,
No purpose or meaning to live.
We’re all alone in a bleak, dark, empty universe.
An accident in the biological soup.
We’re all going to die sometime.
A couple hundred years from now
we’ll all be dead.
And one day soon so will homo sapiens
Volcano, meteor impact or human folly.
One way or another this too will pass.
So what, I’m alive.
Look at that sunshine,
Listen to the sound of children playing outside
and For God’s Sake!
Check out the smile that nurse just gave you!!”
Bill found a place inside himself that felt so good he could carry it around with him where ever he went. Sure he still had goals. Staying alive was one of them. But he wasn’t attached to them. They were games, played with passion, held on to tightly and let go lightly.
Home sweet home. I climb the stairs to the attic. First night in my own bed.
Fall back position.
Where to next!