A Coward’s Divorce from Complacency
I got into a bit of mischief in my younger years. I guess what this means to you, dear reader, depends on which word you put the emphasis. The truth is that when I say “bit,” I really mean just that: the smallest amount possible before I punked out and ran like a lily-livered chicken (oftentimes literally) to the confines of my own home, safe from the drugs and debauchery of urban life.
What I have realized (and what my husband gets great joy in reminding me) is that I haven’t had very many adventures. I was fairly guarded and not easily swayed. I did not partake in random tomfoolery. I was the one who took score at the bowling alley when the electronic boards weren’t working. I was the designated driver. I was the one who would remind you about your impending midterms (and your D- average). I was the one you wouldn’t call when you needed someone to cover for you when you lied about being at a sleepover so that you could “hang out” uninterrupted at your boyfriend’s house because his parents were out of town for the weekend. I was the one who called my mom when I cut class, which more often than not was to break my little cousins out of daycare to go to a zoo or a museum for a “real” lesson. I was the safe friend. Not because I chose to be, but because I was too afraid not to be.
I guess, in many ways, I still am. It’s a role I’ve embraced because, in the words of Popeye, “I am what I am, and that’s all that I am.” I can’t knowingly venture off and do stupid stuff. The few times that I did, it wasn’t fun, and of course, as my luck would I have it, I got caught and punished big time. Then I have this crushing guilt that weighs me down even if I think too long about doing or saying something I shouldn’t. I apologize, even when I’m not wrong, just so that all is “well” again. I’m hopeless.
Recently, though, I’ve begun to toy with the idea of busting loose. But I’m a mom now, so I can’t get too wild and crazy (there’s no need for me to start a mini skirt and tube top obsession at my age and belly size). Nor is turning to a life of crime all that rewarding, no matter what modern television and cinema tells us. Instead, I’m trying to figure out how to shed my coward’s shell and venture off into something where the outcome is not guaranteed. Where my hard work and preparation merely give me an opportunity for greatness.
I’m starting to realize the older I get that complacency is cowardice wrapped in laziness, and I’m not inherently lazy. I think I need to shake things up a bit, to try my hand at something new, more challenging, and potentially more rewarding. It’s scary, though, and the antithesis to my more practical inclinations.
As my desires begin to beat the drums of my heart more and more passionately, I hear the voice of my brother with resounding clarity: “If you don’t follow some of your own dreams and be brave, how do you ever expect your daughters to do so?” It’s a question has forced me to contemplate, plan, abandon, rework, and revisit more times in the last year than in the entirety of my life. It’s a question that has scared the bejesus out of me. It’s a question that propels me to leap into the unknown faithfully.
I’m not sure what the end result will be, but I’m now willing to embrace and enjoy the ride. Wish me luck!