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Have you ever locked yourself out of the house? One night I woke to our puppy making that unmistakable hacking sound that heralds the arrival of a quantity of vomit. I leaped from my bed, grabbed a bathrobe and slippers to prevent hypothermia, and a flashlight so I wouldn’t fall off the deck (the power and, consequently, our yard light was out) and, juggling the leash that would prevent the puppy scampering off, I slammed into the handle of the storm door, rushing to exit before the tsunami.
The puppy and I made it outside before his pukerama and I didn’t fall off the deck. Instead, we ran across light snow in the yard to his assigned defecation spot. Shivering, I watched as the dog completed all the business he needed to accomplish, and then we headed back to the house. I was SO COLD. However, when I tried the door, it was locked. I had activated the storm door lock by accident. Oh, oh.
I jiggled the lock and knocked on the door. I knew my husband was inside back in the bedroom, snoring as he slept on his “good ear.” We live on a ranch, relatively far from neighbors who might well take a shotgun to anyone who seems to be a midnight intruder—especially on a relentlessly dark night. A sense of doom overwhelmed me. I pictured myself slowly freezing solid. Could I survive in a cold car if I hugged a warm puppy? I considered smashing the window in the storm door with a rock—an expensive option. Instead, I calmly resorted to abject panic—pounding madly on the door and screaming my husband’s name. He heard me and came.
As we slog into a new year, I think of my initial panic that night when I realized returning to safety didn’t seem to be an option. We can’t go back in time, either, regardless of how many times people ask me if I preferred a situation from the past to the present (Obama over Trump, for example). Like it or not, we’re on the beginning pages of a new chapter. “Where it stops, nobody knows.”
Since pounding and screaming don’t seem to be practical choices in this situation, perhaps it’s time to take a moment to review what’s right. I’m older…but wiser and more “me” than I remember being for a long, long time. I no longer seek to impress or please—unless it’s to please me. I refuse to be the good “little woman” who shadows her husband and society in thought and deed. Ah, no. I have a right to be this person who was sent here in my body, and I’m darned well going to help her be as filled with “muchness” as possible. I’m going to do my best to influence my own future. Further, I’m going to encourage every hesitant person I encounter to stand up and enjoy defying the wind. (Do you hear me, Hesitant Person?) It feels good to shine.
I don’t have everything I want. But I have everything I need, and I’m healthy enough to build fresh dreams. Maybe I’ll earn new certifications or write a new book or reframe my understanding of the basic concepts beneath my life or all three…or more. When I watched the film FENCES with Denzel Washington and Viola Davis recently, the submission of the wife broke my heart. That kind of submission belongs in the past for women and gays and Blacks and Native Americans—for any individual who has felt psychological boot prints on the face. Like the women in HIDDEN FIGURES, we rise together, smiling at one another because we can see what was previously assumed to be invisible. We are what’s right in this new year, and we’re going to make it shine.
Well said, Susan, and on to the new year, puppies in tow.
This is perfect for the new year, Susan. And you know, hey, a little screaming and fist pounding on occasion clears some cobwebs and is ofttimes what’s needed in the moment. Your hubby would agree, certainly. The man would have been loath to find you stiff as a board come morning. So, here’s to doing what might need doing in the moment. After all, you were saving your life as others felt they were doing when they stood their ground, or marched, or sat. And here’s to not going back. Every morning when we rise we’ve a chance for a do-over. I want to stand beside you (pounding and screaming if necessary) but SHINING!!! 🙂
I am honored and delighted to have you beside me. Your considerable power does, indeed, shine.