The Courage of Awareness

Awarenessthe knowledge or perception of a situation or fact; the state or condition of being aware; having knowledge; consciousness. – Google

We all have this, we all truly know we have this, it’s the heart of who we choose to be.

Think about it for a second, that little part of you that notices something – good or bad – in someone else. Perhaps it might be a situation that just doesn’t feel right, making you pay attention; a person acting a certain way, catching your attention, drawing the focus of the thinking mind into action.

Here is where courage comes marching in, what do you do with this awareness?

Do you have the courage to challenge or accept with gratitude what made you aware? A friend laughing says  “just kidding” after lightly insulting you – likely in front of others – what do you do, does it roll off your shoulders or do you take action? I’m sure you said something to yourself inside, like, “jerk”, or maybe not, maybe you actually think they are right, that is who you are?

Friend – a person whom one knows and with whom one has a bond of mutual affection, typically exclusive of sexual or family relations. – Google

Nope, only bond and affection, no insults were mentioned. If there is someone whom you consider a friend and if that person insults, makes fun of, or picks on you in a hurtful way – it is time for better friends – have courage – use awareness.

Regardless of the outcome or the example above, the point to make here is that you noticed something. Your body reacted to a stimulus and your prefrontal cortex put it into thought or attempted to. It takes courage – the ability to act, a movement toward a better direction, defined life or friend.

As you think, so shall you become – Bruce Lee

Recently, I have been emailing back and forth with detective Nyberg. He was one of the lead detectives on our case back in ’87. We were having a discussion about perspective – I am writing a piece for his book – and he is helping me out with mine. In one of my replies, I wrote this to him ” As a young man growing up, if I had had an awareness about violence and how drugs are often linked with it, then I might have looked at the sketch a little closer. In this message, I was referring to a prior case of Jimmy’s where he had robbed, beaten and raped a convenience store clerk and then stole her car. He had parked the stolen car right next door to his house – my grandparent’s house – as if nothing.

My friends and I were down the block, just finished a game of street football, and this detective came around asking for us to look at a sketch of a man and see if we recognized the person. You see, I had absolutely no awareness that Uncle Jimmy was a bad dude, I knew he did drugs, I just didn’t know anything about drugs. From Jimmy’s statement,  in relation to this sexual assault here is what type of drugs he used: Marijuana, Cocaine, Quaalude, PCP, LSD, Tuinal, Seconal and others. He states remembered drinking beer and smoking marijuana at age twelve, injecting cocaine at age fifteen in the 9th grade. However, Jimmy didn’t consider his drug use a “real problem”, until he started using heroin in the military.

My sister and I saw, what my parents & grandparents decided to show us. My grandmother, Jimmy’s adoptive mother, who was extensively aware of his drug problem didn’t have any idea, or very possibly, didn’t want to believe in the evil hatred this man possessed. The more my grandparents tried to love & help him, the harder he pushed back.

For the Headberg kids, our awareness was of an idyllic life. My dad taught baseball and was an adult leader within the Boyscouts of America, troop 49. We had an aviation company, M&M Aviation, which built Fischer ultralights in a J-3 cub FP-202 Koala version and a low-wing Evans Volksplane VP-2 which used a Volkswagen engine to power it.

Seriously, it was a good life, I was learning about flying before I could drive.

Having no idea what was lurking around the corner, I was blissfully unaware.

Had our parents said something to us which would have shattered the bubble, giving their children an awareness of our family dynamic. Then, I might have picked up on that figure, the one sketched out and presented to me for review. I might have possibly said something if I was aware, said something to that detective, prevented this whole life & death experience. Then again, that’s a bunch of “what if’s” and plausible action thoughts transcribed of a 47-year-old man cast down on a 17-year-old boy’s reactionary response outcomes. – really not worth the mental space nor does it point me in the direction I desire.

An interesting note – during this time period – cocaine-related hospital emergencies rose by 12 percent, from 23,500 to 26,300 in 1985.  And then, in 1986, they dramatically increased by a huge margin of  210 percent, from 26,300 to 55,200! The writing was on the wall, consequences were in play, Regan’s Drug War Legacy had begun.

Unfortunately, I wasn’t the only one unaware. My grandparents relentlessly kept loving someone who didn’t want love or help, their adopted son, a discharged soldier who was addicted to drugs and hated his life. Instead, of using awareness to manage and mitigate the potential danger of a life lived in pain, they kept a rabid wolf in a well-armed hen house, treating it as a domesticated pet.

We are all byproducts of what we tolerate in our life, the actions or inaction’s we take define who we are now and who we will become. When we are really vulnerable and love is intertwined, focused awareness can develop into a difficult task. If only we had been taught love, showed its essence by our peers, examples of loving yourself first and then helping others.

So how about leading by example? The next time you are out and about and your awareness introduces you to someone who feels nice, someone you would initially trust, have the courage to respond in kind you never know what relationship might ensue.

Be Well, Be Safe


1 Comment on The Courage of Awareness

  1. “We are all byproducts of what we tolerate in our life”

    This is so true. I wish more people would realize that.

    I think that even if you are aware of a friend doing you wrong, there aren’t always actions to be taken. Maybe it is the way your friend is dealing with his own problems in life. I guess it depends on the quality of the friendship.

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