A surfer beautifully illustrated the transformative power of two simple words
Photo by Silas Baisch on Unsplash

It's easy to forget in the midst of our seemingly intractable divides, but human beings need each other. Truly.

We are social creatures, of course, but our need for human connection goes beyond family bonds and friendship and social stimulation. In times of distress especially, the simple, purposeful presence of another person can be powerfully transformative—both emotionally and physiologically.

Ryan Kuja, a surfer who also happens to be a trained therapist and theologian, shared a beautiful post that illustrates this fundamental truth.

Kuja wrote:

"Two days ago I was out surfing and a young guy, maybe 20 or so, was just inside of me by 10 yards or so. Suddenly he started yelling frantically 'Hey! Hey! Help! Help me!' As I started paddling toward him he disappeared under water for a second and resurfaced with a frantic look of terror on his face.

'The leash wrapped around my legs!' he said to me as I got to him.

'I'm here. I got you,' I said, knowing he was in sympathetic hyperarousal and his nervous system was dysregulated due to the perceived threat (being out in waves with the leash wrapped around both legs). In a few seconds his state shifted. The look on his face changed. The co-regulating process moved him from panic and survival physiology to a sense of being ok, that he wasn't in danger, it had passed.

A few years ago I was surfing on a fairly big day in Washington when I fell taking off on a wave and I heard my collar bone snap. Right up against a rock jetty in 6-8' surf, survival physiology kicked in and I paddled with my one usable arm to the beach and collapsed in terror and exhaustion.

Another surfer came up to me, looked me in the eye, put his hand on my shoulder and said, 'I'm an EMT. I'm here. I'm going to stay with you. An ambulance is on its way.' I can feel the tears well up writing this as I remember that moment. My body was going into a state of mild shock from the injury, but his calm presence allowed my nervous system to settle. His presence was co-regulating, allowing my physiology to settle a bit in the midst of a highly distressing situation.

I likely would have developed prolonged survival physiology (trauma) if he hadn't been there. His attunement didn't save my life (I had already done that by paddling in with one arm), but it saved me from the potential pitfalls of an overwhelmed nervous system that stays locked in survival mode. I surfed the same spot a few months later, nervous I was going to be triggered. I wasn't, thanks to that random stranger. I've never had triggering symptoms related to this event, something that easily--so easily--could have robbed me of my deep love for surfing and the ocean.

'I'm here.' Some of the holiest words I've ever known."

So beautiful and so true. I'm right here. I'm not going anywhere. I've got you. These simple words from the mouth of a stranger can change chaos into calm, terror into calm, trauma into comfort. How incredible is the power of human connection?

We need each other. And we need to remember we need each other.

Thanks for the reminder, Ryan Kuja.

Photo by Louis Hansel on Unsplash

This story was originally shared on Capital One.

Inside the walls of her kitchen at her childhood home in Guatemala, Evelyn Klohr, the founder of a Washington, D.C.-area bakery called Kakeshionista, was taught a lesson that remains central to her business operations today.

"Baking cakes gave me the confidence to believe in my own brand and now I put my heart into giving my customers something they'll enjoy eating," Klohr said.

While driven to launch her own baking business, pursuing a dream in the culinary arts was economically challenging for Klohr. In the United States, culinary schools can open doors to future careers, but the cost of entry can be upwards of $36,000 a year.

Through a friend, Klohr learned about La Cocina VA, a nonprofit dedicated to providing job training and entrepreneurship development services at a training facility in the Washington, D.C-area.

La Cocina VA's, which translates to "the kitchen" in Spanish, offers its Bilingual Culinary Training program to prepare low-and moderate-income individuals from diverse backgrounds to launch careers in the food industry.

That program gave Klohr the ability to fully immerse herself in the baking industry within a professional kitchen facility and receive training in an array of subjects including culinary skills, food safety, career development and English language classes.

Keep Reading Show less

This article originally appeared on 04.13.18

Teens have a knack for coming up with clever ways to rage against the system.

When I was in high school, the most notorious urban legend whispered about in hallways and at parties went like this: A teacher told his class that they were allowed to put "anything" on a notecard to assist them during a science test. Supposedly, one of his students arrived on test day with a grown adult at his side — a college chemistry major, who proceeded to stand on the notecard and give him answers. The teacher was apparently so impressed by the student's cunning that he gave him a high score, then canceled class for the rest of the week because he was in such a good mood.

Of course, I didn't know anyone who'd ever actually try such a thing. Why ruin a good story with reality — that pulling this kind of trick would probably earn you detention?

Keep Reading Show less