This is one of the stories in Chapter 8 on Asserters in The Enneagram of Death – Helpful Insights by the 9 Types of People on Grief, Fear and Dying by Elizabeth Wagele. Among other things Mario can’t control he copes with the possibility his sons will not be old enough to remember him if he dies now. Mario Sikora is an Enneagram 8, an Asserter type.
It sticks in your mind, I can tell you, the first time someone points a gun at you in anger.
More than twenty years ago but it feels like last night; the feel of the carpet under my bare feet, and smell of the bourbon on his breath. John, my housemate’s brother who was sleeping on the sofa until he got back on his feet, had been on the short-end of a bar fight and came back for his brother’s gun with the intention of settling the score. Roused from bed by his girlfriend’s screams, I went downstairs to see what was going on. When I got between him and the door he pointed the Browning Hi-Power 9 mm, a gun I well knew to be loaded, directly at my nose.
As I said, it sticks in your mind.
I wish I could say I had a more profound thought at that moment. Oddly enough, I’m writing this at an outdoor cafe off Boulevard des Philosophes in Geneva, home of Rousseau and Calvin, a long way from that Southwest Philly row home. Perhaps an insight on civility and society in honor of Rousseau, or more apropos, something on the perseverance of the saints or the ramifications of God’s hand in human affairs in honor of Calvin. (“Hath not the potter power over the clay…” as St. Paul wrote to the Romans.)
But all I could think at the time was: I refuse to die at the hands of this idiot.
I was younger then, of course. Fast and good with my hands. John was drunk so his reactions would be a little slow, maybe giving me a slight edge. But he was a bad drunk and I didn’t know how much time I had and I wasn’t waiting around to see which way things would go. I had coiled my legs just a little to get some spring and I was trying to shift my angle ever so slightly to see whether John had released the safety when he lowered the gun and eventually calmed down.
Anti-climactic, perhaps, but not when it’s you. I went to bed a little dizzy and wondering if I would have felt the impact of the bullet or if the lights just would have gone out.
The second gun pointed at me was metaphorical.
“It could be no big deal, or it could be something like non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma,” my cardiologist said. “But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. On Monday I’ll call a pulmonologist I know–he’s very good–and we’ll get you in to see him as soon as we can.”
It was late on a Friday afternoon. Five minutes after I hung up I called him back.
“Doc, I’m not a sit-and-wait kind of guy. I won’t make it through the weekend just waiting. I need to do something today. Right now. This hour.”
I had gotten to know him over the preceding weeks, as one test after another had shown nothing to be wrong with my heart. But my symptoms were “troubling” to him and he kept looking. A CAT scan the previous day had proved irregular. Probably an Asserter himself, my cardiologist said, “Okay, go to the hospital, I’ll admit you. We’ll get some tests done over the weekend.”
Read Part II of Two Guns here Tuesday October 23.
Mario Sikora is an executive coach and the 2011-2012 president of the International Enneagram Association, and he has an Enneagram certification program for professional users. Visit him at http://www.enneagramlearning.com/ and www.youtube.com/user/mariosikora