We moved to Indianapolis seventeen years ago to try something new; the Midwest fit the bill. A woman I knew sparked my eternal desire to try new things. We worked together and I kept my distance most days. Like Peanuts Pig-Pen, a cloud of regret and sadness enveloped her body like a shadow. The sadness manifested itself in her words. Understandably, she had no clue how she sounded. Most of her comments were what we call in the South, “compliments with a cut.”

Me: “I got the job and we’re moving to Indy.”

Dark Cloud: “Y’all don’t know nobody up there. It’s gonna be cold; you’ll need snow tires for your car.”

Me: “I can’t wait to experience the snow, buy a real winter coat, and make frequent runs to Chicago.”

Dark Cloud: “Well, that’s nice that you doing something new. I done got old now. I’m forty-two and I can’t go nowhere new.”

Me: “Forty-two is not old! These are your flirty and fabulous years!”

Dark Cloud:” You can’t teach an old dog new tricks.”

I looked around for her chew toys and Kibbles ‘n Bits. When I didn’t see any, I responded, “Well, animals can’t talk, and as long as you’re alive there’s always time to learn something new.”

In that moment, I vowed to try different things no matter how frightening the proposition may be. My mind drifted back to previous conversations I’d had with her and I couldn’t recount a single compliment or word of encouragement from her to ANYONE!  This is what flowed from her heart and mouth:

·         You not gonna get promoted anytime soon. I been in this position twelve years and ain’t nothing changed.

·         If your marriage doesn’t work out, you can always get a divorce. Let this one be your trial run.

·         Ain’t no way I’d be spending my hard earned money on no trifling ass man and have him just up and leave me like I don’t count.

·         I don’t see why all these women buying houses by themselves; they need to wait on a husband. Like they can afford to pay all those bills alone.

So, yeah, you get the picture. Here’s the thing that was most disturbing. She was an attractive woman who captivated lots of guys and seemed to be good bestie material to other women: until she opened her mouth. The past can keep us from blessings and greater heights when we refuse to leave it frozen in time. Behind the salty stabs, I saw a woman who was probably hurt when she was younger and stopped growing. Stopped learning. Stopped trying to move beyond the familiar and refused to embrace the notion that the side show should never keep you from the main attraction. So she let stagnancy be her lot in life.

I never want to stop learning, growing, and trying new things. The day anyone decides to stop learning and growing, they’ve decided to stop living. I’ve got lots of living to do. How about you?