Mar 15, 2017

On Glass

I grew up in the halcyon days before the internet and portable video games, when your options as a child having to endure grown-up tasks such as Thanksgiving road trips across the prairies or trips to the laundromat were limited to what you could come up with to pass the time given the restrictions of environment and volume allowance. So reading, Mad Libs, bugging your little brother, and pretending the laundry hamper was one's only protection from the lava floor were pretty much your only options.

One afternoon, rather than spend a couple of hours watching for the red sock to come around, my childish cohorts and I were running up and down the aisles of agitating washers and spinning dryers. For a reason lost to the depths of my childhood memory, I decided to escape the suffocating confines of electric heat and the cloying smell of fabric softener and make a break for it. (I was in general an obedient child.)

But when I pushed on the heavy door leading to the freedom of the outside world, instead of doing its doorly duty and opening, it shattered into a million tiny shards of glass around me. I remember standing there in the doorway, bits of glass glittering in my hair and around my feet, stunned. It was my first experience with the impermanence of the world. It was also an indication of my immense power.

The things I could count on - the loyalty of best friends, the protection of mommy and daddy, my own strong body - were no longer the bastions of solidity I assumed them to be. Best friends could move away. Parents could divorce. Bones could break. (So could hearts.) If glass doors could shatter rather than simply swing open as doors were created to do, there was no telling what chaos lurked in the shadows.  

But I had created this chaos. I was the bringer of this destruction, albeit unintended. What previously untapped potential had I unveiled to myself and to the world in that remarkable instant?

On the day that glass door shattered, I learned that I was a being both formidable and fragile. Ah well, and riot on.