A coping tool in trying times

As per my previous post, there is some chaos in my current environment that is not promoting well-being and peace on Earth between the various factions on site. Absolute madness ruled for one full 24 hour cycle, and many things and situations that were earlier taken for granted and assumed as being standardized are having to be internally re-evaluated so as to allow for me to just be able to function. You see, unlike the current belief held by pretty much friend, family, and foe alike, I am not and have never been a person that is made of pure slag iron, and have never once assumed that I was in any way impervious to things that move at high velocity or have sharp pointy bits.

-Hell, I am actually afraid of heights. Not the mind-numbing version of pure terror and phobia, but one that leaks that small trickle of cold sweat down the lower part of the spine if I am above about 15 feet from the earth.

This kind of fear is something that I know the basis of and can overcome, and have done so on such numerous occasions that the standard assumption (there is that word again) is that I not only do NOT have an inherent, irrational fear of participating in being at height, but actually crave it in some way. The way that I overcome it is that I know what causes this fear, I know the root cause. The greatest thing about knowing the root cause or mentality dictating an event that you are either predicting to participate in or are currently doing so is that when you get to the root cause of said activity you are now in possession of the most epically-important answer to a solidly-fundamental question…


And can now come from a position of advantage, a position of empowerment.

Armed with this data you can literally conquer anything, from trying environments to fear-inducing activities, because (well, for me) knowing the “why” circumvents the fear of the unknown. This is the tool that I use to be able to function in the crazy places that I have worked in and visited, because by discovering the fundamental “why” behind a place or group gives you a cultural edge as you are now able to somewhat predict the responses of the culture or people. Inviting a muslim over for dinner and you want to impress them? -Bar-b-que some mutton and lamb and serve paratta flat bread, followed with some sheesha smoking. Want to impress a brit? -Cook up some shepard’s pie (recipe available on the intertubes of course), serve it with a stout beer that has about 1/5 of the glass as pure head, and polish up on the current goings-on of Manchester United. Once you start trying to find out the “why” of everything that you participate in I can tell you that it not only gets easier to do, to see the “why” in the things that surround you, but for me at least life just gets easier.




…And now we get to this place.

There… there truly is no “why” to this place. Attempting to just come up with basic models of the reasoning behind the local indigenous worker’s actions is literally an exercise in futility, and I won’t bore you with the details of the different processes that I went through to come to this conclusion. Let’s just say that I have never seen a people that had such little belief in tomorrow, internally knew that they have two distinct ways of acting within them that have nothing to do with the words “noble” nor “savage”, and generally just exist for no other reason than to exist. No goals, no aspirations outside of what they can take, and no sense of creativity or wonder. It is a frightening thing when none of these BASIC ELEMENTS are evident within a society, as (in my interpretation) these are the keys to forward motion and true evolution of a group and something that just makes a human… well, human.

I guess what I am trying to say is that this place, even out of all of the other civilizations, cultures, et cetera that I have been exposed to…. this one is the most alien.

No that I have hopefully firmly established that a tool that I use and have used for quite some time to handle activities and areas much like this one is just not effective at this time. As this previous method is not effective in this place, I have had to brush off another in my bandoleer that worked really well the first time that I was in the Mid East as a snot-nosed punk 19 year old.

It’s quite a simple one actually, and comes with virtually no thought.


The only explanation that I have for this method is that if the human environment around you gets to the overwhelming stage, there is always one place that you can turn to that has no qualms as to what it is and no hidden agenda, and that is the local physical / natural environment. I am talking about the plants, the wildlife, even the sky. Hell, it could (in the case of Dubai) be architecture. Each environment also holds some points of note that also help you identify some of the basic undercurrents of thought of the persons that inhabit it. The desert for me held just a raw, powerful beauty to it; one that invited no quarter and was not expected to give it, but had sunsets that would take your breath away. In Thailand the jungle was full of variety and color, and the rains were a thing to behold.

Here…. well, the sky is a theatre of activity, and always shows you something new.

The swamps here are just too full of poisonous animals and plant life to be of any use in this exercise.

-And with that now in place I think I’ll be fine.

(Post somewhat inspired by this picture over at Andy’s. You really know how to do those sunsets bud.)


About Old Iron
I'm just a guy that works overseas alot and likes to play just as hard as I work. Been to a FEW countries, know a shitload of people all over, and generally have a good time wherever I go. -Oh, and I am currently in between girlfriends, and strangely enough and perfectly happy with that status. In the long run hookers are cheaper. Take my word on that.

11 Responses to A coping tool in trying times

  1. Qwatcher2 says:

    It begs to wonder how Maslow’s hierarchy of needs applies to the locals. May need to create a new one just for Nigeria.

    Hierarchy of needs: A H Maslow, 1950s and 60s
    (This is typically shown in a pymarid with #1 being the cap and #5 being the base.)

    1. Biological: Hunger, warmth, rest
    2. Safety: Protection from danger
    3. Socialization: Love, affection, affiliation
    4. Self-esteem: Autonomy, dignity, respect
    5. Self-actualization: Realize one’s potential through competence, creativity, and achievement

    • ~KC~ says:

      Excellent point Qwatcher2.

      Maslow believes that the only reason that people would not move well in direction of self-actualization is because of hindrances placed in their way by society. He states that education is one of these hindrances… but I believe the lack thereof is an even bigger hinderance.

      Maslow has set up a hierarchic theory of needs. All of his basic needs are instinctoid, equivalent of instincts in animals. Humans start with a very weak disposition that is then fashioned fully as the person grows, based on environment and societal factors. If the environment/society is right, people will grow straight and beautiful, actualizing the potentials they have subsequently inherited. If the environment is not “right” (and mostly it is not) they will not grow tall and straight and beautiful.

      Simple theory… not practical for everyone. It would require that EVERYONE has an ounce of humanity within… dormant as it may be – in order to evolve and self-actualize. That doesn’t appear to the true.

      At this point, Nigeria is its own hinderance and the lack of education promotes such animalistic behaviour. Maslow was a humanistic psychologist. I question whether or not he spent quality time in an environment wrought with corruption and depravation – to the extent where anything else is deemed unacceptable/foreign. True – all of the described needs appear to be a real issues… while on the flip side – when progressive behaviour is introduced to help promote well-being and self-actualization – and yet they STILL remain animalistic and inhuman – I couldn’t agree with you more: how does this theory apply to the locals? It is afterall, and will remain so – a THEORY.

      And then… the supposed civilized society rewards such behaviour with raises and changed rotations – how can we expect anything other than rabid behaviour? I find this whole situation disgusting and appaling… and I would need more than ‘finding beauty in insanity’ as a coping mechanism.

  2. Andy says:

    Thanks for the props, Iron.

  3. Qwatcher2 says:

    What I find so interesting is that when developing his theory Maslow only studied what he called exemplary people such as Albert Einstein, Jane Addams, Eleanor Roosevelt, and Frederick Douglass rather than mentally ill or neurotic people, writing that “the study of crippled, stunted, immature, and unhealthy specimens can yield only a cripple psychology and a cripple philosophy.” Maslow also studied the healthiest 1% of the college student population.

    Now what fun is that! Time to develop a new theory 🙂

    • ~KC~ says:

      Let’s develop a few theories of our own over a couple of martinis!!!!! I’m sure we can come up with a few of our own found at the bottom of a vodka bottle… that are far more accurate than his! Seriously? How can anyone, an intellectual and psychologist – develop such a theory on such inaccurate information? Crazy.

  4. Qwatcher2 says:

    Martinis!!! Did I hear martinis??? Awesome! I have been accused of getting quite chatty after a couple. 🙂

  5. Qwatcher2 says:

    LOL. Guilty as charged 😉

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