There’s a route I walk through my neighbourhood when I’m trying to think and sometimes when I’m trying not to think. More often than not, I circle the loop solo (if you don’t count the characters of my novel riding on my shoulders). When other humans cross my path, I nod and give the smile that says, “Way to go, you’re out in the world.” We’re mostly introverted, hence the early hour of our stroll. But once in a while, the sidewalk presents a bubbling extrovert. What can you do but take notice?
A few weeks ago, a little boy perhaps 3 or 4 years old, steered his red motorized car in my direction. His father, all smiles, walked along side. They’d pass a few trees in the boulevard, then the man would call out, “Go get ‘em!” The boy would stop his car, and jump out with his toy chainsaw raised above his head.
Yes. I said chainsaw.
The youngster would run to the nearest tree and pretend to saw away while his father cheered him on. Then child would hop back into the car and drive to the next tree for a fresh re-enactment. I couldn’t resist asking the man, “What are we cutting down?”
“Hah! I feel much safer now.” I continued down the street smiling. Later I wondered what red monsters meant to the boy. Were they after-dark villains, a source of bad dreams? Had the father invented this game of warring against monsters to rid the boy of night terrors?
For the next several blocks, I reflected on the words of Buddhist nun and author, Pema Chodron who writes about warriors of a spiritual sort in her book, The Places That Scare You. “A warrior accepts that we can never know what will happen to us next (…) The central question of a warrior’s training is not how we avoid uncertainty and fear but how we relate to discomfort.”
What an interesting and necessary shift in thinking during this time when there are so many red monsters and not enough toy chainsaws.
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