Monday, May 19, 2008

Alert and Oriented Times Four

John Eldredge, in his book Waking the Dead refers to the movie The Perfect Storm, where he describes how an injured seamen offshore is treated. The first thing they do, he tells us, is to evaluate their degree of consciousness.

"When Spillane (The Perfect Storm) treats injured seamen offshore, one of the first things he evaluates is their degree of consciousness. The highest level, known as 'alert and oriented times four,' describes almost everyone in an everyday situation. They know who they are, where they are, what time it is, and what's just happened. If someone suffers a blow to the head, the first thing they lose is recent events--'alert times three'--and the last thing they lose is their identity. A person who has lost all levels of consciousness, right down to their identity, is said to be 'alert and oriented times zero.' When John Spillane wakes up in the water, he is alert and oriented times zero. His understanding of the world is reduced to the fact that he exists, nothing more. Almost simultaneously, he understands that he is in excruciating pain. For a long time, that is all he knows.

John Spillane is a para-rescue jumper sent into the North Atlantic, into the worst storm of the twentieth century, the perfect storm, as the book and film called it, to rescue a fisherman lost at sea. When his helicopter goes down, he is forced to jump into pitch blackness from an unknown height, and when he hits the water, he's going so fast it's like hitting the pavement from eighty feet above."

He is dazed and confused--just as we are when it comes to the story of our lies.

It's the perfect analogy.

Especially during those challenging, difficult and stressful seasons of life. Isn't that what often happens to us? We have no idea who we really are, why we're here (there's a diminished sense of purpose and direction), what's supposed to happen to us (what's just happened - we lose perspective on our lives, our current context, the circumstances, situations and relationships around us), or why. Honestly, there are days when we are simply alert and oriented times zero.

How so often these statements resonate with the core of our being?

If you were to evaluate your degree of spiritual consciousness, what would you be? “

Alert and oriented times _______”?

1 comment:

Eduardo de Leon y Castillo said...

Alert and oriented times __3_____”?

For me, at this time, the question is not: Who I am? Where am I? Or what just happened? Rather it’s a question of what time is it? For you see my time and God’s time aren’t always synonymous.