“There are times when it takes much more strength to know when to let go and then do it.”
― Ann Landers
When I hear someone say they’ve been thrown a lifeline, I picture a round, white floatation device we used to call a ‘lifesaver’ with a line attached to a savior at its other end. That rescuer could be a person or thing; someone on a boat in my imagination, but certainly there are many other possibilities.
The other day, a writer friend suggested to me in a profound, sudden thought, that I might no longer need the lifeline writing has offered for the last decade of my life. It was one of those shocking pronouncements one is completely unprepared for, yet simultaneously recognize as truth. He was right. However, those distinctions between the gradations of lifelines from support to salvation, are legion and far apart; a distance almost as dramatic as the space between self-confidence and survival.
A savior, according to almost any English dictionary, is one who runs the gamut from protecting, to delivering, to liberating, before actually saving. But those definitions hint at the differences in lifelines, as well. The savior at the other end of the rope might be there only to shore up confidence rather than actually save a life. What does all this matter? In fact, a great deal. If you’ve ever shopped for life vests and been overwhelmed by the choices from ‘shallow water’ and ‘near shore’ floatation vests to USCG deep sea devices, you know there are as many different life-saving strategies as there are threatening situations. Throwing an inflatable vest to someone already in the water who can’t swim would be useless folly, while a simple, rigid life-saving ring with a line attached would work much better. A lifeline thrown to a skater on a pond of thin ice would be unnecessary for use on an indoor rink. Yet some kind of support, like the ingenious milk crates pushed in front of a beginner for balance could be essential confidence builders and balance insurance, warding off broken wrists and concussions. There are certainly real dangers in playing in the water or on its frozen counterpart without the skills to guard life and limb, but there are many ways to protect, reassure and even save the life of someone exposed to those dangers.