When I was growing up I was lucky. My great grandmother lived just two doors down. Whatever she said seemed very wise. When I was scared, usually of getting hurt somehow, she would tell me about a man she knew. He had been hurt and was scared of being so again. So, she said, he wrapped himself in cotton wool. Then he shut himself in a big old wardrobe.
And he was never hurt again…
After that, she wouldn’t say a word.
And I would think about what it would be like to be that man in the wardrobe. And how he would never get hurt again…. But neither would he ever feel joy, curiosity, the love of others…. Or laugh or feel the sun on his face… And although he’d have avoided pain or the risk of it, he would never experience pleasure again.
And I would do the thing I’d been scared of. I’m sure that sometimes it didn’t work out. But even then I think I learned something. But mostly it did work in one way or another. And, more often than not, brilliantly! And I wouldn’t want to have missed any of those experiences. Surely it’s our life’s experiences and how we play them that makes us who we are.
Sometimes we feel raw and vulnerable and scarred by what’s happened before. It’s hard to let go of our defenses against anything similar happening again as it feels as if that’s all we have. We cling on to them, puny as they are, even though they serve only to build fear. I would guess that the longer that man spent in the wardrobe, the more scared he became.
I think about my great grandmother. She inspired me – to think outside the wardrobe (ahem!) and to assist people stuck in wardrobes to become strong and brave enough to come out and take their place in the world. It is our duty to fight for our freedom.
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