Colonel George E. Renison was a WWII hero, Chairman of WH Smith Books and Chancellor of the University of Waterloo.
He led a life with a scope and breadth that reads like a historical novel.
I was lucky to have known him, shared a glass with him, dined with him, and had many a wonderful conversation with him.
I am not sure how the subject came up, but we once talked about what was known in his day as battle stress.
Now we understand it as PTSD.
He described a person’s ability to absorb trauma as courage and in this way:
At our birth, we are all given a pocket of courage in the form of money. Each of us gets a different amount, and it is given to us in different currencies.
Some of us get a million dollars, but in one bill, and others get hundreds of dollars in nickels, dimes and quarters.
As we go through life, we bump into traumas. Sometimes there are big, like combat, and others are smaller. But each ‘bump’ sends an invoice payable immediately.
At each trauma, we pay that charge from our pocket of courage.
None of us pay the same for what seems like the same trauma.
For some, what seems like a ‘lesser’ trauma extracts a considerable cost; other significant trauma costs a small fee.
Regardless, when a person is out of money to pay the trauma invoice, that’s it.
There is nothing left.
There is no refilling your pockets.
You are broke.
And you are broken.
You never know when someone’s ‘currency’ will run out.
You never know when they will have spent the last of their ‘money.’
You never know how they will react.
But they will react.
Some react by lashing out in anger.
Some react by becoming sullen.
They almost all call out for help.
Unfortunately, the call is silent or inappropriate – like angry rage.
Are you listening?
Have you thought about how you might help?