Jeremy Statton

Living Better Stories

The Questions Crisis Affords

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Our lives at times are characterized by crisis.

I don’t know what a crisis looks like for you, but for me, it is always ugly. And it never feels good.

There is always something lurking around the corner. A friend says something that I take the wrong way. A friend says something I take the right way. A bill arrives in the mail that was not anticipated. An illness. A diagnosis.

It feels like a volcano, which has sat dormant for hundreds of years. It is has always been there and has become part of the scenery. Those who live around it have stopped noticing it altogether. But the suddenly, it wakes up. The ground rumbles. The belly of the mountain is filled with fire and lava.

The mountain waits again. But this waiting is different than dormancy. This waiting is a threat to destroy everything around it, including me. The mountain waits to explode.

This is what a crisis mode looks and feels like to me. Stress levels go up. Sleep is lost. Tension escalates. Fear runs amok.

photo by Bob Jagendorf

photo by Bob Jagendorf

Much of my life is directed at avoiding crises

  • I buy insurance.
  • I turn on my blinker while turning.
  • I eat green vegetables.
  • I have my anniversary date engraved on the inside of my wedding ring.

I avoid crises because they take so much out of me. They take my sense of security. They make it hard to sleep. They create a sense of unrest. It feels like everything in the world hinges on the outcome of the crisis. It feels like the world might end, at least the world as we know it.

A crisis means uncertainty, and I hate the sense of uncertainty.

When I think of crisis I think of disaster, only because I have seen it end in such a way so many times.

But there can be good in a crisis

Like anything else in our lives, our crises are really an opportunity. An opportunity to see through the attachments in our lives. To see beyond where we are currently able to see. To see something different than we have ever seen before.

Our lives can get stuck. Stuck in the comfortable, secure past. Stuck in the safety of what we have known before. Stuck in the habits of the present. What we believe and what we do without ever thinking.

Imagine such a thing. We believe without even thinking about it.


A crisis makes us stop. All of our autopilots get turned off. It forces to us ask questions. We have no choice but to reconsider the tired, old answers that always worked before.

We ask the questions about the stuff of life.

  • What is really important?
  • And what isn’t?
  • What matters most in life?
  • What interferes with my ability to focus on what is important?
  • Where am I headed?
  • Where do I really want to go?
  • How do I get there?

Sometimes our stories get bogged down in the irrelevant and unimportant. It isn’t that these extemporaneous portions of the story are bad, they just aren’t good.  They don’t propel us forward. They don’t help us grow.

These portions of the story exist because we lose sight of who we really are. And then we make the wrong decisions trying to be something else.

Next time you face crisis instead of worrying about the outcome, try something different. Stop. Look at the problem. And instead of saying “Oh no,” try saying “That’s interesting.”

And then ask the questions only crisis can afford.

Has a crisis ever forced you to reconsider your life? Was it beneficial in the end?

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About Jeremy Statton

Jeremy is a writer and an orthopedic surgeon. When not ridding the world of pain, he helps you live a better story. Follow him on Twitter or Facebook or Google +.

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2 Replies

  1. Crisis in my life has challenged my life view. As a teenager this shaped resolve for my life and the way I would live. As a man, it challenged me to make decisions based upon what was truly most important.

    It is not a comfortable space, makes me physically ill, and often has come at a price. The lessons learned have been invaluable.

  2. It feels awful doesn’t it? But it has helped me deal with stuff I would never have dealt with otherwise.

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