It wasn’t a big school. Typically averaging just 197 mouldable young minds across all grades meant everyone knew everyone. It also meant you had a bigger chance of being the one kid that did something stupid.
Considering the small cohort, the buildings still looked big, recognising of course the fact that I was orders of magnitude smaller so everything seemed grand.
No one was around. It was probably one of those times where I went off and did my own thing, letting my imagination wonder when I felt disconnected to the rest of my class. That happens frequently enough, although I’ve always felt good about it.
I stood at the base of the cold stairwell, the flight of stairs before me. Often I’d wonder how the refractive speckles became part of the landscape of polished concrete that climbed to the second level, it would glisten in the sun, like fragments of glass. Blue metal maybe? To this day I’m still not sure.
Like life before me, the stairs we all climbed each day needed light in days of darkness. The switch that powered the fluorescent tube at the top was nestled into the wall to the left, looking rather industrial. But broken.
To me, the events that were about to unfold just seconds from now would stay with me, subconsciously, till this very day, prompting me to try and please everyone around me, trying to solve their problems often before committing to my own at times. Mostly falling on deaf ears.
Looking rather perculiar, the switch didn’t work. As the rest of the world around me continued on, I on the other hand had a different commitment – all focus, both visual and audible to the task before me. If someone else needed this switch, I had already decided it had to be in working order.
Underneath the grey rectangle I could see a hole. I figured out quickly that it gave me first hand access inside the cold grey box that sat buried into the wall rather than doing as it should for someone to use.
The world around me was still a blur, the sounds of kids playing just a smudge in the day.
I was focused, committed. Then I made the mistake…
I stuck my finger in to push the switch back out for the next person to use – and it took hold, it wouldn’t let go. Like life itself it ran through my veins, my nerves, my muscles, intensified in just seconds, seconds that still had an eternity to explain to me that what I had just done was stupid. My mind yelled to pull back, but I couldn’t. The wall just kept feeding its power. I was scared. And still alone.
By the grace of God, time itself finally surrendered. It’s as though as soon as I had realised I made a deadly mistake, with just enough exposure given to make me not forget it, it let me go, allowing me to take a seat at the bottom of the stairs I still hadn’t climbed.
I sat their gripping my finger as my little body shook continuosly at the frequency that was just bestowed upon me. My heart quivered slightly. But it was the weakness of my body that worried me. From what I can remember, nothing tripped at school that day, nor did anyone, which meant I must have taken most of the lesson and got away without getting anyone mad at me that I had failed at the task I had set myself.
Looking back, I’m amazed my seven year old body didn’t drop at the base of those stairs that day. Alone until found.
Throughout life I’ve climbed many challenges, as has everyone else, both lit and dark. To me, this memory serves as a solid reminder that we can’t, nor should we try to always solve everyone’s problems, particularly not before working on our own.
Often at times we aim to please others, in fear that they won’t allow us to experience the peace we so yearn, given even that they too are probably feeling the same, in their own way. Humans, the world afar, walk on shells hoping not to disturb the delicate relationships before us rather than embracing our God given humanity, each of us, in our own selfish ways. Which should be ok, with balance. Many times our relationships are bound by unspoken terms, beneficial mostly to one party rather than two.
There are many things in life we can control, and then there are those that we can’t. Nor should we try. Life plays out. Intent in everything is the source of all truth. When bound by morals, one should always feel rest assured they have done their best, done things honestly and done it with honour.
We all have the duty to own our own happiness, even in my own imperfection and flaws, this I am still learning. Not everyone can be helped, and not everyone wants to be. We try anyway.