The Prisoner

The Prisoner 150 150 Ben Coker

The Prisoner

In a pseudo sequel to his role in Danger Man, Patrick McGoohan plays ‘No. 6’, held ‘prisoner’ in ‘The Village’ (Portmeirion actually – I can think of worse places!). He can’t escape as various surreal devices continue to prevent it.

This classic TV series ends when as a result of a conspiracy, the Village culture ‘breaks down’ and McGoohan gets out – or does he?

As a keen RNLI supporter, I’ve been watching a current documentary series about various rescues taking place around the UK.

A group of divers are marooned on a large rock off Anglesey because the weather deteriorated, and it became too dangerous for their boat to pick them up. (Easily done, as I know from personal experience). A smaller, more manouverable lifeboat rescued them.

Some kayakers found themselves stuck on mudflats when the tide went out quicker than they expected. They couldn’t get back as the mud was very dangerous. Two lifeboatmen had to crawl out on the mud to show them a safe way back.

Then there’s that line in ‘Hotel California’ – “We are all just prisoners here, of our own device”.

You and I know how easy it is to get stuck, to become marooned, and to turn ourselves into ‘prisoners of our own device’.

It happens, sometimes we get into those situations for the best of reasons, from following what seems like a logical progression, and there’s that phrase “it seemed like the right thing to do at the time”.

But we end up stuck.

There are three degrees of ‘stuck’

First degree stuck is when you and I know where we want to go once we get unstuck, we know where we’re going once we escape although we may not know how to get there.

But we just can’t get ‘out’ of where we are now – or at least we don’t know how, we don’t know what to do.

Second degree stuck is more serious.

Second degree stuck is when you and I have no idea where we’re going, what we want to do next, but we do know that we’re ‘stuck’ in whatever concerns us now. It may be what we do, it may be relationship based, it may be financial, or it may be to do with health.

We don’t know what we want, but we do know we don’t want to be where we are and want something different, whatever it turns out to be.

Third degree stuck is sadly where many people in society are.

It’s when they don’t know that they’re stuck, when they don’t realise they’ve become a ‘prisoner of their own device’.

They aren’t happy, they aren’t content, but they don’t realise why.

The ‘accept their lot’ and just ‘get on with it’ because ‘that’s life’, ‘that’s the way things are’ and even ‘just go with the flow’ not knowing where the flow is going or that they are actually stuck in a glacier.

Until they realise this and move up to the second level there isn’t a lot anyone can do for them because they have no idea that they have a ‘problem’ that can easily be solved.

They aren’t looking for help because they don’t recognise that they need it.

The thing is, as illustrated by the lifeboat stories, that to get unstuck, whatever the degree of ‘stuck’ you and I are in we need help.

It is impossible, or extremely difficult and time and energy consuming, to get unstuck by yourself. (More ‘personal experience here!)

The main concern of the lifeboatmen was that the people being rescued would attempt to get unstuck by themselves by jumping into the sea or walking across the mud. The lifeboat crews are the experts in rescue, they know the best things to do, the ‘casualties’ don’t.

And it’s the same when you and I are stuck.

We get stuck because we don’t have the specific expertise we need to ‘escape’ from where we are or to discover where it is we want to go if we’re not already clear on that – and even if we are, we probably need help to show us the way.

Often, it’s only in one aspect of life that you and I get marooned, one area in which we don’t feel fulfilled and progressing. Everything else is going well but because we’ve become a ‘prisoner’ somewhere this will begin to nag at us and impact on the things that we are happy with.

The need to escape the ‘problem area’ slowly overwhelms the rest, staring by continually ‘interrupting’ the normal flow in the ‘free’ areas.

You and I know that the only way to get ‘unstuck’ or ‘released’ is to be rescued.

We need to call for help.

Whatever the issue is there are plenty of people out there who have the expertise to apply to our predicament – to show us the safe route out, and to help us discover where we’re going.

Sometimes these people have specific technical skills, like the lifeboat crews, but mostly they’re called ‘coaches’.

There’s a coach for everything, lots of people with different expertise in different areas.

Finding the right coach for you and your specific ‘prison sentence’ may take a little time, a few conversations with people, and the deployment of your network contacts.

But there is someone out there who can help.

Take a positive approach.

Know that you can get ‘unstuck’. Focus on how you’ll feel when this happens rather than where you are now.

Your lifeboat will turn up.