If you were picking teams for a fight, I wouldn’t be an obvious pick. I’m the sister that dodged wrestling with my brother when we were younger by slowly approaching him with waving fingers, ready to tickle rather than slug. The song “Why Can’t We Be Friends” is the song my soul sings. I like simple, innocent things. I’m big on compromise and hate conflict.
All that said, I got a little spunk (read: Mary Brown) in me. Two summers ago I was on an indoor soccer team. One of the opponent’s players, Johnny, and I kept going neck and neck during the game defending each other. At one point, we were marking each other and he whispered in my ear:
“Be careful little girl. Don’t hurt yourself.”
OHHHH. My blood boiled.
Immediately, I was ready to GO. Just get me the ball, I thought. I felt a surge of adrenaline met with the absurdity of injustice that I could hardly harness. I had to take action. Just then, the half-time buzzer went off. I walked off the field, took a swig of water and told the team trust me. I’ve got Johnny.
The second half began. This time Johnny was in the goal. I was playing forward. IDEAL. I’m a pretty average player but in the moment, I was convinced Johnny was the one that needed to be careful. I hate when boys act like they are better than girls. In a textbook play, my teammate crossed the ball to me and I scored on Johnny’s @$$. He fell to the ground and I just stood over him for a second and gave him a little wink. “Better be careful,” I said as I walked away.
(My mom happened to be stopping through town and came to the game. I heard her shout “EMILY!” after I scored. Not in a congratulatory way. It was more in a “Don’t hurt him! Walk away! WALK AWAY.” kind of way. But she still gave me a high-five after.)
All that to say, I’m not one to pick a fight but once I’m in, I’m IN. In a way Darkness and all his friends (Sadness, Heartbreak, Discontentment, etc.) are my life’s Johnny. They picked a fight that will last a lifetime. I love how Whistling & Co. defies each. I see each whistle worn, each story shared, each conversation a goal scored against Johnny. Exactly what he didn’t want to happen.
I love when strength comes in unexpected packages. Typically, strength is met with strength. Arguments are met with more arguments. Yelling breeds yelling. But what a feeling when seemingly weak actions totally topple our Johnnys. It’s like Johnny is quieted by a goal scored rather than harsh words or foul play.
One Tuesday morning, I was driving during rush-hour traffic in DC. I was trying to merge. I had my blinker on. I waited my turn. I looked out my driver-side window and motioned to the driver next to me asking if I could merge in front of him.
He flat out mouthed, “NO.” He said no! Who says no? What ONE one car in front of you is going to make or break if you get to work on time? I wanted to inch my way in any way so as to say, “Don’t mess with this CRV, mister.” I wanted to honk my horn and beat my hands against my steering wheel. Who are you to tell me no??
Instead, I just gave him a thumbs up and smiled. “Cool,” I mouthed back. And he ever-so-slightly loosened his grip on the steering wheel. His shoulders, that were once up by his ears, relaxed. He still didn’t let me in but I like to think I started disarming a bomb that morning.
Darkness whispers in our ear and tells us to go looking for a fight. “Be careful little girl.” Other cars on the road are mere machines and we forget a real, live human is inside just trying to get to 5 PM like we are. (I’m so guilty of this.) Darkness wants us to think we are the only ones suffering. Darkness wants us to believe we are solely important. Our stuff is more important than their stuff. Darkness wants to keep us separate.
I say let’s dropkick darkness.
There is no place on this earth where we can allow thinking like this. When we are separate, we loose focus that everyone is hurting. When we are separate, I think “Only I know heartbreak. You have no idea.” When we are separate, we forget to help others. When we are separate, my situation is worse than yours.
The stakes are high. Depression runs rampant when we are separate. General feelings of discontentment, lethargy and inadequacy dance when darkness is abundant. Looking out for Number One only strengthens the very opponent we are battling.
The natural reaction to darkness is to only bolster ourselves up. We build up our wall just big enough for ourselves. We use all of our strength to protect us, only playing into his game. Darkness loves this. Only room for me and him. He whispers. I believe. Nobody is around to remind me not to.
The most unnatural reaction to darkness is to talk about him. He’s like a pansy that shrivels in sunlight. We don’t talk about him but know he’s there. Bring him into the light and his nocturnal power diminishes. This means we speak up when we know Darkness is close. This means we ask other people how they are and stick around long enough for a real, honest answer. This means we keep asking questions. Just because we checked on a friend 5 weeks ago does not mean we excused from ever checking in again.
Be diligent. Be vocal. Be ready to battle with unnatural means. Darkness sure is.
If darkness is going to take my mom, he sure as hell isn’t going to dictate my life. I don’t know the end of my story but I don’t want to make it easy for Darkness to call the shots. There are periods of time I forget all of this just as sure as I can write about it. But I know when I’m together with others, darkness is only pushed further away. I can’t control what has happened but I can absolutely fight back. One way to do that is to talk about him. Expose his tendencies. And keep talking about him. He’s a serious opponent, not to be taken lightly but is destructed with means well within our collective power.
Who’s with me? Let’s drop-kick darkness.