Put On Your Own Mask First

Flights safety tip #1.

When shit hits the fan and the plane is going down, and you’ve got to get a mask on yourself and another person, put your own mask on first. You can’t help anyone when you’re dead. Tend to yourself in order to better serve others.

Life safety tip #1

If you are witnessing someone self destruct, don’t worry about losing the relationship. Worry about losing the person. If you are a part of the problem, or if your speaking up is a problem to them, don’t try to keep the relationship going by keeping quiet. Do not put the relationship before the love. I repeat, do not put the relationship before the love. Know that losing them in your own life is fine, but keeping them in your life only to keep that relationship going at the risk of their safety is selfish. And we all know, love isn’t selfish.


I have had these tips come up over and over again in my life. I can recall learning life safety tip #1 when I was in middle school. Our health class had a visit from a suicide prevention organization and they showed us a movie where a vibrant and beautiful young girl was suicidal and her best friend didn’t speak up. The friend had witnessed one failed attempt, but thought it was true loyalty to keep the secret. In the end the main character did commit suicide. Promptly when the video ended, the squat representitive of the prevention agency with big hair and rosy cheeks powered off the tv on the rolling cart, turned to us and said, “remember kids, you are not being a real friend by not telling anyone. You are being selfish and putting them into danger.”

Someone in my life is self-destructive. So, for one reason or another I need to remind myself of these two safety tips. I have been bred to be empathetic. I blame it on my mother who has compassion that knows no bounds. Who loves more fiercely and more unconditionally than any human I have known. I would not be as much of an activist if it weren’t for her guidance. I would not be an educator who values potential over test scores. Nor would I be a  believer in equality, or in infinite possibility, or in the inherit good of people. I believe that people will always do what’s best, eventually.

It is because of this empathy that I go down with sinking ships. I do not want any of my friends or family members, strangers or associates to feel alone. I know what that’s like and I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy. But I am volatile, you faithful readers know this already. And when I go down, it takes an eternity to come up for air. And by then, all may be lost.

It is because of this empathy that I cannot give up on anyone. I cannot betray loyalty. But I have been selfish. I cannot want someone to believe me loyal more than I want that someone happy and healthy. If I do prefer that they believe me to be loyal then I am only around to fuel my ego. So my ego must be killed in order to save someone else.

It is because of this empathy that I speak up. I risk losing you because of the love I have for you.

Reader, if you have someone in your life who needs you to step up and speak out, don’t be afraid of losing the relationship. Be afraid of losing that life. Even if they swear to never speak to you again, even if they follow through with that vow, hold firm to what is right. Keep your wits about you by putting your own mask on first. Then risk losing your friendship by saving your friend. Love means you will continue to root for them from the sidelines. You may not be on the field, but you will always be on their team.











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