There was a fire in my dorm just before Christmas of my freshman year at college. Far from my own room, but serious enough to cause a middle-of-the-night evacuation with most of us in our pjs and bare feet. After that incident my mom bought me a fire safety ladder to keep in my room, should I ever need to escape from another fire. That safety ladder traveled with us as we moved from the dorm room and into an apartment off campus. And it turned out to be actually very useful as an escape mechanism, once.
Only the kind of escape it was providing was not from a fire but rather from a simple dare that one couldn’t use the ladder to get down from the second floor balcony of our apartment. (For the record, one can.)
When my husband and I lived in New York we also had a fire escape ladder should we need a fast exit from one of our many tiny apartments. That escape ladder traveled with us as we moved to Indiana and has spent the last three years shoved in a closet, completely unappreciated.
Until this past weekend, when my husband and children discovered the ladder with great delight, and immediately put it to use in climbing into—and then escaping from—an oak tree in our backyard.
So we buy an escape ladder with the intention of protecting ourselves from a hypothetical fire, not realizing that the value of the ladder extends far beyond that. I mean, seriously you’ve got to get yourselves one of these, people!
So, what other proverbial “escape ladders” do I have shoved away in a closet for some hypothetical future event? I think it’s time to take them out, dust them off, and see what kind of benefit they might have for me right now. I can think of literal things, like the china that stays in the cabinet for special events that never seem to materialize. And I can also think of figurative things, like the conversation I’ve been “saving up” to have with my co-worker when the timing is just exactly right. It's he pearls I don’t wear with just jeans and a t-shirt. Or the journal that’s too nice to actually write in, because what I have to say is clearly not “worthy.” It’s nice to occasionally remember that the hypothetical future event might actually be holding you back from some very real now.
What “unexpected escapes” might you have right in front of you?