By Robin Garrison Leach
Looking back, it’s a wonder I’m still alive and kicking. But here I am—a woman of AARP age with minimal physical scarring and only slight psychological aftereffects to show for the bad choices I made early in life.
If you’re like me, you can remember those years when your brain thought your body was invincible and when your judgement was only slightly more advanced than a child reaching for the pretty fire on a stove.
I lay awake one night, mentally listing moments when my life was in possible peril. Some could be attributed to the naivete of youth, some to a rebellious nature, some to serendipity, and some to the vagaries of the evolution of my personality. But most were just bad choices.
Here is my list. See how yours compares.
- My brother, Jim, invited me to sample one of those packets of activated charcoal that used to be inside potato chip bags to preserve freshness. It clearly said, DO NOT EAT. I was 4. It was yukky.
- I climbed trees to the tippy-top, where tiny twig-limbs swayed with the slightest breeze. I sat and sang, sure I would be a sensation someday. Didn’t happen, but at least I didn’t break a limb or a limb.
- A strange dog trotted onto the playground at school when I was 8. I kissed him on the mouth. He bit my mouth.
- We lived in the country when I was young; my brothers and I thought it was great sport to throw lizards into our water cistern. I didn’t realize that was the water we drank.
- Our house was surrounded by woods when I was 10 or so. I explored it, barefoot, many times, with only an occasional stone bruise or errant sticker in my sole instead of a snake or spider bite.
- We moved into town later. I lay out in the middle of the road in front of our house over and over one night, just to prove I could. No cars were coming, as far as I could see. I just did this to be dramatic. Wonderful preteen years.
- When I was 15, my friend, Donna, and I decided to walk to the 30B bridge in our town. It was 4 miles, no shoulder, early evening. We eventually accepted a ride from a stranger to get there faster. Wow.
- Another time, I got into car with Lanny M., the baddest teen in our town, and went with him to a beer party in the woods. I sat right next to him on the ratty bench seat of his dented car; he was actually very respectful and kind to me.
- The shoe factory in my town threw all the leftover margins of rubber from soles into a giant dumpster below a 15-feet-tall fire escape in the back. We climbed and jumped until we were sweaty and stinky.
- I’ve driven drunk. I’m sorry. It was a long time ago. God was steering because my brain was bemoaning a broken heart or trying to show how mature I was. Stupid.
Most of these moments were trivial; some weren’t. But all could have had grave consequences. And there are scores of other near-disasters that I’ve probably forgotten.
The truth of it is this: I’m still here in spite of foolish actions when I was growing up. I remain alive and well because my days are planned, and because God is infinitely patient. Maybe you feel the same way when you remember your youth.
Now that we’re all adults, it’s certainly time to give God a hand and make some wise choices. We’re staying home and keeping ourselves and our families safe.
I’m sure you agree that it’s a small sacrifice in repayment to Him for His protection when we were too young and stupid to know better.
Contact Robin at email@example.com. She’s home.