survival mode


In 2011 I flew to Japan for my twenty first birthday. The return tickets were $400. My favourite run – down - yet -charming guesthouse was available. Everything fell into place. Three days after arriving in Japan, perhaps three minutes into checking in to my favourite guesthouse, *the* earthquake hit.


I have not trained for earthquake procedure. In fact, the very concept of an earthquake was so foreign to me, at first my brain neatly squared the event into train rumbling past the window, even though the nearest train line was about a five minute walk away.


They say its safer to be inside a building during an earthquake. That the buildings are designed and constructed with earthquakes in mind. Of course. Stay inside the Hilton. Stay inside the Park Hyatt. Live out your lost in translation dreams in the New York Bar while the who building sways in harmony with the earth beneath it.


 But Sekitei guesthouse, in the backstreets just off Korea town, with cracks already in the walls and teacups now smashing to the floor is not one of those places. So what do you do? Well, fortunately, in these situations, you don’t have to choose. The Sympathetic Nervous System does that for you.


This is the joy and the beauty of the SNS. It gives you decision making skill so fast, so sharp, it’s as if you didn’t make them at all. It gets you out of buildings swinging from side to side. It leads you to the group of women crouching on the road, who bring you closer, who take their arms to you.


Like any other effective, miraculous life –saving system, this one comes at a price. The price is an adrenaline hangover. The price is an inability to sleep. The price is feeling the surge of survival mode kick back in at the slightest stimulus. It can take hours, days, weeks to recover.


Why? Because the Parasympathetic Nervous System needs time. Want to feel at ease? Want to feel clear? Like your day isn’t constantly slipping out of your fingers? Well, the PNS needs you to be patient. It needs you to cooperate. It needs you to co-create the comedown. And it doesn’t just need you after events like this. It needs you every single day. The PNS is all choice. And the choice is all yours.


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