Monday, October 29, 2007

The Zen of Being Trapped in an Elevator

The elevator jerked to a halt. My heart lept, please no. The lights flickered back on and then complete darkness. Mild waves of panic swept over me as I fumbled around the panels looking for an emergency phone. Finding familiar shapes, minus the sense of sight was a strange feeling. I lifted the reciever only to be dissapointed by a dead phone. I slithered along the wall, dropping to the floor, huddled in the corner. At a loss of where to begin, and attempting to find a place of Zen. Being out of control is totally against my nature. But I looked it in the same light as climbing. The challenge to control the mind when out of the comfort zone. Ah, the ever detested little mechanical gadget that keeps me accessible to the world, and them to me, was in my pocket, my cell phone. I dialed David, one of my fellow course mates at the Banff Centre, and told him with a wabbly calm that I was stuck in the elevator in the power outage. His sympathy, derived from years of exeprience with a claustrophobic wife, was instant. No, I'm not claustrophobic, I think I'll be ok. Call me back if you don't get out in a little bit.

I sat in the dark, relishing the contact that I had through my cell phone. I started texting Max, my boyfriend, seeking a little more reassurance. I saw it as a little mountain of Zen to try to keep my calm. Just then I realized a few things. We spend almost NO time absent of stimulation, in the dark, or just with our thoughts. Hmm I need to start meditating was my frist thought. This space is really uncomfortable, being helpless, out of control, and completely in solitude in the dark. I thought I saw a sliver of light which was a relief because those urban legends, like air tight elevators, began to seep into my head. The light turned out just to be my cell phone. Images of James Bond breaking through the roof pannel to save me from suffocated made me smile a little. I laid my cell phone open in the middle of the floor to cast a little light in the room. What if I have to go to the bathroom, and I am in here for hours? Then they open it and I have soiled myself. Deja Vu from being 8 years old locked in the bathroom at the library or in the closet at my house attempted to consume me. The irrational imagination is an amazing thing. Rational fear, I have found from experience, is a much calmer state. When I was avalanched in a serac fall, or when I fell 60 feet hitting the ground without a rope ice climbing. Those things were calm and rational. This thought process was far from that.

Maybe I better call someone I thought. So I called the switchboard, which was of course totally jammed with questions and complaints about the power outage. After 10 minutes on hold and rediculous surcharges from my out of country cell phone I thought, maybe i'll try the emergency phone again.

I called the emergency center who immediately dispached a handful of security crew and maintenance workers to save the day. Upon arrival the man yelled to me
"Are you ok?"
"Yes, I'm fine."
"Ok, don't panic."
Hmm I thought, now I surely won't panic, thanks for the support.

The task at hand seemed as intense as neuroscience and quantum physics making me laugh. But also realizing that I was comforted by the fact that there were others around, and that they knew I was here.

The power switched back on soon after a screw driver pried it's way between the door and the wall attempting to open the door manually. I floated up to the 6th floor and got out, deciding to walk back down to the lobby.

It is funny how these little moments teach us about ourselves, our fears and our weaknesses.

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