Whenever we have made our plans and laid down the path of our future the trickster will come along and play a trick on us.
F. David Peat, Blackfoot Physics
A few months ago I was in my front room when I heard something outside on the street. It took me a moment to make sense of it, and when I did, my adrenaline surged. Someone was crying out for help, repeatedly: “Can anyone hear me? Please help me, please help!” I grabbed my phone and went downstairs into the street, where I found three other people assembling at the curb just beyond my door. They were looking up, at the window of the flat beside mine, where my neighbour had somehow caught and trapped her hand in between the panes of the window when it had dropped down as she’d been opening it. She couldn’t move it without further crushing her fingers – she was already in great pain, tears rolling down her shocked white face.
I rang 999 while the others talked to her and tried to soothe her. Then one brave/foolhardy young man took it upon himself to climb up the drainpipe and along the narrow ledge of the brickwork – like a mountain goat perched along a cliff-face – where he managed to shift the window and free her hand. But here’s the thing: she was freed but now he was stuck, clinging to the window frame and trying to work out how to get back down. When the emergency crew arrived a few minutes later, it was him they had to help. They used a long ladder and assisted him back down to the pavement, where they chided him good-naturedly for his heroics.
We all experience crises of some degree at various points throughout our lives. Illness or injury, unemployment, relationships ending or relatives dying, or even the central heating going bust midwinter or the cat needing urgent care at the vet. Or getting ourselves painfully stuck in a window. Crisis occurs in many shapes and sizes, with its main flavour being urgency. The calm routine of a more-or-less comfortable existence is rudely interrupted. Our perspective is drawn sharply into focus upon a very particular issue, and at the same time we are jolted out of complacency and reminded that life is much, much bigger-and-beyonder than our own small stuff.
When there is an emergency, we pull up and pay attention. We become ready, poised to spring, and in most cases we step out of ourselves and become available to others in need. We go downstairs or across the street, we phone for help, or we climb a drainpipe. When there is an emergency, our better natures emerge.
Crisis is what it is. At worst, it causes suffering; at best, it allows for emergence. And Trickster knows this.