One ex-brother illustrated it to me this way; being an active witness is like being on a party boat floating down the river. Everyone on board is happy patting each other on the back, using each other for experiences, giving talks, going to dinner parties, invites, life is grand. Then somehow you end up falling off the boat.
While in the water your yelling for help as the boat slowly moves on down stream and the sound and lights gets further and further away. You can hear the laughing of the witnesses on the boat as it gets further away. But no one hears your screams for help. You swim ashore, and after spending the night cold and wet, you wake up to the smell of coffee and bacon. You stumble down a small trail on the riverbank and find others that have fallen off the boat. You drink coffee, have breakfast, and hear the experiences of a few of the people that have fallen off the river boat. You find that everyone is in various stages of reestablishing their life.