Dad has always been a worrier and the dullness of the nursing home environment provides plenty of opportunities for his mind to indulge in worst case scenarios. Most of his worries have centered around issues of security. Now that I’ve had to take over many of his responsibilities he worries more about me and my security.
Dad had tuned out and began dozing. So I took a break from our checkbook and bill paying work. I watched him for a few minutes while he napped. My own mind started pondering the subject of security.
All of us need a basic level of personal security throughout the various stages of our lives. We’re entirely dependent upon our parents or caregivers for safety and security during our childhoods. We work towards some measure of security for ourselves and families during adulthood. Then, if we survive to old-age, we again depend upon others to help keep us safe and secure. Because we know the world is an insecure place, we sometimes think about how we can bolster the security and safety of ourselves and loved ones.
The same basic drive for security naturally extends to a social and national level, too. We understand that there are bigger threats to the security of our social units . Measures of group security and safety are often given priority, as well.
Since security is such an important drive and need we can also get into trouble because of it. It’s easy to find oneself living in the comfortable bubble of a “comfort zone”. Life feels secure with feet on the ground, plowing a rut. The rut is a drag. We daydream about some sort of adventure or excitement, but climbing out of the rut will disrupt our concepts of security.
Regarding family and social groups, security is usually maintained by some sort of power and authority figure. We rely on the head of the household to guide the family in matters of safety and security. The same responsibilities have been legally delegated to the executive branches of governments.
Experience has proven that the exercise of power in matters of security is frequently abused. The head of household and national leadership can easily misuse authority, control, and power. The person or people in charge can become highly disciplinary, dogmatic, rigid, and inflexible. The leadership can fail to show respect for those they oversee. The result is oppression of individuals and suppression of everyone’s spirit.
Over-concern about security leads to paranoid thoughts and behavior like strict disciplinary punishments and over concern over means of protection. Progressive ideas and actions are strongly discouraged when over-concern over security is the mindset of leadership. Aggressive action overrules positive risk-taking.
As I pondered an over-controlling attitude about security, my thoughts shifted to when a riding instructor was teaching me how to ride a horse. I was having a difficult time with the animal. My back felt stiff and my legs had gotten tired. Also, the horse didn’t seem to like me, either. The instructor helped me off the horse and offered some pithy advise. “Ride loose in the saddle.”
The teacher told me to sit upright and confident in the saddle. I had to remember to imagine a straight line running from my feet, to the hips, to the shoulders, and up to my ears. At this point, he stressed that it is important to “ride loose in the saddle.” He said to relax the tension in my back so that I could “flow” with the horse’s movement. If my posture remained straight and relaxed, I wouldn’t waste energy and attention on staying mounted on the horse.
When the horse gallops, I was reminded to keep a somewhat relaxed, loose position from my shoulders to a comfortable bend at the elbows. Any stiffness will be transmitted to the bit in the horse’s mouth. The horse will not appreciate any stiffness and overcontrol of the rider. This position allows a balance between over-control and under-control of the animal. If the rider maintains a relaxed control of posture and guidance, the horse and rider maintain a solid physical, working relationship.
As I got older, I remembered this sage advise. It’s quite relevant to most other areas of life. Regarding security, if a person practices confident, erect posture and lets go of the urge to over-control or under-control, a balanced approach and attitude towards matters of security will be enabled. The result will be a moderate degree of control that can be intuited by oneself and others.
With a balanced mindset, we can rely upon our preference to do things in our “tried and tested” manner, but we can also be relaxed and loose enough to enjoy going with the flow when trying new attitudes and tasks on for size. Issues of control and security can become more democratic and respectful of everyone’s rights and responsibilities in social and national contexts.
By keeping a balance between over and under control; stability, positive discipline, trustworthiness, and security fall into place. Our inbred need for security can be balanced with the desire to get out of our ruts, intelligently.