In the world of aviation, there is a particular instance of turbulence that can be fatal. Large jet planes leave a trail of turbulence so severe that a plane following too closely can be thrown out of control and into a possible crash. (As happened in 2001 to AA 587 over Queens NY with 265 fatalities when it came too close to a preceding jet’s turbulent wake.)
In this blog, I have focused on the issue of other people writing plays for themselves (and us as actors in it) thus commanding our lives. Here, I want to describe a similar event that is not a self-conscious “play”. There are some people, and I am sure we all know at least one, whose life is so singularly chaotic that it creates a wake of vast turbulence that any caught in it are vulnerable to crashing and burning. And when this does happen, the person, the cause of it, commonly blunders forward without noting.
This person is not consciously writing a play, but rather is being, perhaps, their own authentic self! Yet, that authenticity can be disastrous to the person and all those caught in its vortex. In certain situations it can be great fun. At a party, the vortex this person creates can be funny, wild, extravagant. Little harm comes from it in that setting. But that same person in daily life, with his or her immediate friends and family in their turbulence, can cause them confusion, harm and even “crashing and burning”.
The turbulence in this person’s life is a constant. The spontaneity and craziness can be appealing to some. It can be an adrenaline rush. He or she can attract their share of followers and lovers. But spend any lengthy time in this whirlwind, and exhaustion and finally dread ensues. With this person it is better to be a “wing-man”. Fly along out on the wing-tips. There is less turbulence there. Beware being a follower….the turbulence back there can be fatal.
It is difficult, if not impossible, to change this form of behavior. Its causes are deep and profound….rooted probably in ADD or manic/depressive syndromes. This person generally means no harm to others, but the behavior is often relentless and enduring. They themselves are not unhappy with their lot. They have learned to live within their chaos. (I knew one such person wherein the simple act of going into a local small deli to pick up a newspaper and a pack of gum rendered the whole shop a mess of confusion as they exited with their purchase. The process was a comedy of looking through pockets for change, dropping items, talking to others, forgetting personal items left on the counter, etc…leaving the onlookers in disbelief as he departed.) One such instance can be funny. A life of such instances is poisonous.
If you have such a person in your life try to give them the space they need to not affect your life. But if they are a loved one or family member your choices are not so easy. I am not optimistic that you can change that behavior, but as voiced above, learning to avoid the wake of this turbulence may be your main defense. Once inside their vortex you can little control it, and must look out for your own well-being.
Don’t be heroic. Administer from the fringes. Be amused. Be patient. Don’t get too invested. (It’s quite likely they don’t notice.) Be a stoic friend. If family, give them love. But give up hope. Eschew regret. Let them be. Smile. If they become toxic to your own better Self, you must move on. They might not even notice. If they do, they will forget soon. They live in the ever-present moment. Guilt is not an emollient here. Their turbulence is not a play you want to be in. It will be corrosive if not fatal to your own Self. Sacrifice is not necessary. They might not even notice. Turbulence is frequently filled with dust and debris. It can blind us as well. People who leave a turbulent wake seldom look behind themselves. The wake is unacknowledged. Don’t fight it. Don’t be there. it confuses and blinds. Escape it! Look for smoother air.
“This is your pilot speaking…I have put on the seat belt sign. We are encountering increased turbulence ahead. I am looking for smoother air. When I find it, I will turn out the seat belt sign, and you once again can move safely about the cabin.”