Hope lies just beyond the door
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
He stared at the door. Monday morning light eked in through blinds and filled the room in soft gray. Why was he scared to leave, to stand up, put on his shoes, pick up his pack, open the door and walk through it? He would likely be back to the warm house in a few days, but something lurked in his head and locked his butt into the cushy chair. He stared at the door, mouth open, imagining all the things he had to face whether he walked through it earlier or later.
He was lucky to have the companionship of a good woman, who obviously adored him and made it clear he was most welcome. They both knew, however, that he had to save himself, had to make money – a life – somehow, if they were to last. He fancied himself a journalist – nay, even more than that – a writer. He would write her poems in e-mails as well as columns in the local newspaper, but otherwise he was more like a bum who was good at rock climbing and snowboarding. It seemed there was so much more waiting for him if he could just gather the courage, the initiative to walk out that door and face the nip of the November day. The power of perception is a powerful thing. If a man is scared to fail, he might not try hard enough to succeed, or try at all, and thus assure his failure. Of course, as life would have it, it is when failure is not an option that it must not be feared whatsoever. As any seasoned whitewater kayaker or rafter will tell you, it is critical to concentrate on the narrow path through the maw of thrashing liquid – and ignore the death surrounding it – because “where you look is where you go.” So it is with all great challenges, the greatest of which might be surviving in this crazy world.
What does it take to survive in this life? I think survival is finding a way to be happy wherever you happen to be. Those with the brightest outlook seem to be the best at finding their way through the darkest nights. To find a way through the blackness – that is “survival.”
Staring at the door in the morning fog, the young writer contemplated his doom. How quickly he could end up living in a box, bitter at the people walking past the alley, their arms loaded with gift-wrapped boxes and gold wedding bands. He had no job. His foot was broken and he was already living in an RV with a leaky roof parked in the mountains. He couldn’t even get a job as a bus boy, though he was college-educated; his only experience was in writing. That’s what he could do. Wandering around with his cheap laptop as his most valuable and promising investment, it was easy for the man to despair. He had a real job once, with a large company, which he quit to follow a dream – and look where that took him! To the edge of his mind, to a place where he might lose all that had become dear to him and all he had ever taken for granted. “Dammit,” he muttered to himself, still sitting in the chair. It all seemed as good as gone, the luck long run out. His pack was ready to go, on the floor at his feet. Outside, he knew the cold air was waiting and it was tempting to put it off an hour longer for one more hour of rest in a warm place. But he knew he would eventually have to leave for one reason or another. Before he could think anymore, he stood up, made brisk steps to the door and slammed it behind him.
That was me a little more than a year ago, maybe even the same day I picked up a classified section and found a job exactly suited to my purpose – at a newspaper, when thousands of other journalists were losing their jobs at newspapers. Now, I’m living with that “good woman,” and my credit cards are clear.
In this time of cold and darkness, I want to remind others out there in the struggle of survival that there is always hope for those who muster the courage to step outside the door blocking us from what we seek.
Derek Franz’s column runs every other Monday. He can be reached at email@example.com.
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