RURAL REFLECTIONS: Courage in my socks
I often have awakenings in the strangest places.
Mine occurred in the bathroom while looking at my socks. (Hmm. That might be more information than you need.) Anyway, there it was: flowered pajama bottoms draped over white and navy-blue striped socks.
"My God!" I thought. "This age thing has finally caught up with me. I'm mixing patterns!"
Hard to believe that I was a shy little girl hiding behind her mother and never talking to anyone other than those in her neighborhood. I guess I felt that if I didn't talk, I was invisible.
This shyness carried through my life is hard to believe, since I took risks repeatedly. In a session with a counselor, I explained to him that I was basically shy. He laughed, giving me food for thought, "Perhaps you are really gregarious."
Hmm. Had to look gregarious up when I got home. Was I more than I thought I was? Another hmm here.
Girls. Teenage girls can be vicious.
I walked into the girls' bathroom to fix my hair before class. It was the '60s. My hair was thick and long. On this particular day, I pulled the mass up on top of my head and twisted a rubber band around it.
In today's world, I would just blend in. In a small community in that era, I was an enigma. (I had to look that word up as well.)
The girls teased me to the point that I was almost ill. It was cruel but eye-opening.
It was my socks and my pajama bottoms.
We belong to a society of people where each seems to find its kind. We gravitate to people who are like us, who like what we like, who are in the same age, same culture, same profession. We feel comfort and safety with our own.
And, for those of us who are shy, we find a haven where we can survive.
Or do we?
I love that Facebook allows us to see memories from years past. Just tap "memories" and the past is awakened.
It was on the flight from Chicago to Portland. The evening flight seemed to fit my need to do what most people do on flights. No socialization necessary. My book and I settled in.
Two young men rambled in and sat next to me. One young man was having girlfriend problems. A child was involved.
I melted more deeply into the window seat. The troubled young man next to me was exhausted. As we all do on flights, he twisted and turned, trying to find comfort in that darn middle seat.
"You can lay your head on my shoulder and sleep," I informed him. "The middle seat sucks."
"Really?" he said. "Are you sure, lady?"
I assured him that indeed, I was sure. In fact, maybe I needed a snuggle as well.
We lifted the armrest, and he leaned his sweet head on my shoulder. (I know you are wondering where the socks come into this, but just bear with me.)
"Here, let me cover you up," I said as I wrapped my shawl across his chilly shoulders. I read and he slept.
I am just a lowly writer of a newspaper column. Something I have done for two newspapers over the past 15-plus years.
I have no specialized training in my writing. I began writing social dramas back in the '80s. I produced them for schools and community for over 12 years.
Why? Because I could. I never doubted myself.
Standing behind my mom taught me something, as did the ridicule I felt when I was teased about my hair. We get nowhere standing still. Never will we know what we can do if we don't stand up against our doubts, possible ridicule, the fact that we just might be noticed.
Doing nothing is standing still.
The young man on my shoulder was a piece of something larger. I was just a grandma looking to ease a young man's weary soul. A step forward. I had no second thoughts. I did what my heart told me to do.
Perhaps the young man was not affected by our interaction. Truly, I was. I took this young man into my heart, where to this day, he resides.
We are all part of a larger community of one kind or another. Like that shy little girl, we can float along with the tide, residing in anonymity (another big word) or follow our intuition perhaps opening new avenues of thought, ideas that could impact this world, become part of the solution and not just someone blending in.
Each person has a gift, a purpose. There are no classes to teach this. There is no roadmap to follow. The voice inside of each of you is your purpose, your calling.
My socks didn't match my pants. In fact, the socks are rather ugly, but they are part of my sock world, so when grabbed up in the dark of the morning hours, they have a purpose. They have a message.
We do not need to match everyone else. We do not need to blend in or complement one another. We do not need to be imbedded in social acceptance or the mores of the times.
Each of us can be a pair of navy-blue and white striped socks.
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