March 30, 2015, Prescott- My job today involved guiding five classes of Eighth Graders through choosing seven people, out of a possible twelve, to hole up in a bomb shelter, following a hypothetical nuclear holocaust. This is the culmination of their study of the Cold War Era.
It is, as many will have guessed, a variation on the Lifeboat activity, which many of us have done, in Psychology 101 or as an icebreaker at a business convention. One gets to play God, or at least presume to advise the Supreme Being.
The students took this responsibility very seriously, and with the re-population of Planet Earth in the balance, being young and highly intelligent worked to the hypothetical survivors’ advantage. The lone hexagenarian was left out in the Nuclear Winter. Then again, a nineteen-year-old, of average intelligence, was also culled from the sack.
Each of us does the lifeboat exercise on a regular basis. We let some people get close to us, and others, try as they might, are kept at arm’s length. It is human nature, though thankfully such selectivity does not result in harm or death on a regular basis. Most people who are cut out of one situation find that, as that door closes, another opens.
When I was growing up, and throughout my twenties, I learned to stay flexible and to circulate widely, so as not to depend to excess on any one person or group. Thus, my love of travel became more than just a means to joie de vivre. It was a path to survival. After nearly thirty years of marriage, I learned calmness and patience, in place. In widowhood, life is more of a mix. While I will not let myself be either cast out of the lifeboat or shackled within it, the safe haven is a fine place to have close by.