My son: Going for a walk and singing to himself by Tim Hale Photography
I forgot for a while that I am making a difference. That regardless of what I do or do not do, am affecting the world.
A few months ago I moved my family from a quiet, secret, cabin style home tucked in the woods to an almost on-top of the train tracks, often visited, trailer house in the midst of town. Admittedly it's a small town, but still a drastically different environment for us.
In the hustle and bustle of transition, and with my eye on encouraging my husband and our sons to appreciate the value of our new surroundings--even amidst the fun and triumphs--I kind of forgot that I matter.
You see, surrounded by men (yes, all four of my sons are pretty much men now!) I was caving to their desire to "protect" me. I was often waiting for their accompaniment before running errands while viewing the world through eyes that focused on why I need protection.
I am a woman who loves to walk. I love to sing to myself, smile at strangers, and dance the odd silly jig. I like to stop under shade trees and pull Margaret Atwood or John Steinbeck or whichever author I'm crushing on out of my organic cloth purse to explore even more strangers, along with their walks and funny jigs.
However, the fact that my husband and sons see the men who approach me, smile back at me or offer me rides, and that they want to protect me from such advances, was one too many things for me to explain and insist on during the chaos of transition. So, I back burner-ed it.
And then, I kind of liked the burnt toasty smell, with the soft rotting undertone. The way I felt among my men, almost like a prize or treasure. The way hiding away meant I could avoid uncomfortable conversations and mini-confrontations.
The way it meant I could avoid my community.
That's when I noticed that the rotting stink had overpowered the burnt toast, and I could see all the pests circling the nutritious feast of my neglect.
I was avoiding my community, avoiding myself, and avoiding the responsibility I have to my sons.
While they were "protecting" me, we were looking at the world with a desire for proof of such a need. And proof was easy to find! Not in any big, scary, explosive way but in that insistent, dangerous, insidious way. Proof exists for most of our views, how foolish to choose such a disabling one!
Sure, when I walk and smile and sing, I am approached. By men and women who offer me rides, ask about my day, even tell me I'm pretty.
Because people are mostly kind!
When I smile back and appreciate their kindness, say no thanks to rides and dinner dates, they move on having first been able to take kind action.