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Have you ever been stuck, between a rock and a hard place? When I was a kid, I got stuck between two street-mailboxes, the blue one and the army green one the post office uses to store relay mail.

Some of the peers I’d been playing with would climb onto the green unit and slide down between the two, to hide during our “Hide and Go Seek” game. And they always slid right out when discovered there, without a hitch.  Not I.  When I slid down from the curved top and hid in that space for a moment, I suddenly started to feel as though the two mailboxes were closing in on me.  I panicked, and tried to slip out from the tightened spot but got stuck in the middle!

It wasn’t as if I was a meaty girl, either. I was thin as a rail as a kid, always joked-on that I looked like an owl on a pole stick, because I have big eyes also! That unexpected incident caused my chest to expand since breathing became a challenge to conquer, and that perhaps was what gave me the impression that the two mailboxes had inched their way toward each other, deliberately, just to squeeze me to death!

The situation grew worse when my peers, my siblings, my parents and some of our neighbors, hearing my screams for help, all clamored around the two mailboxes to see about setting me free. This happened on a summer afternoon. Already, I was heated, sweating bullets, overwrought with fear, and unable to breathe or move inside that compact place!  With the crowd of people surrounding me, and the air feeling dense, humid, and limited of any freshness, and my Mom chastising me for causing this stir, one can imagine why I was worrying!  The more that my dad pulled my arm, and yanked at me, and climbed atop the green mailbox and reached down to lift me up, the tighter the space felt to me and the harder it became for me to budge.  Now I was in a frenzy, hysterical and wailing, to no end!  It got so bad, trying to free me from there, that the fire department, the police, and the post office, all were summoned to the scene, and it took a construction worker of some sort, unscrewing the bolts at the base of the blue mailbox and moving it away so that I could see release!

Dear God, what a relief that was, when I stepped out into freedom! Everyone cheered and clapped, as my dad guided me back to the house and all the workers received praise. At the time of the incident, the two mailboxes were situated with more space between them. Since then, however, all of them were readjusted with less space for any child to fit there. Lately, I don’t see anymore of the dual mailboxes on any of our U.S. street corners. If we’re lucky these days, the blue ones still exist to save us a trip to the Post Office, but the green ones seem to have become obsolete. I’d like to think that perhaps my case set the precedence for the removal of the dual sets; I can imagine the headlines: “YOUNG GIRL GETS STUCK IN THE MIDDLE OF TWO STREET MAILBOXES AND ALMOST SUFFOCATES!” -hence why those two units saw new arrangements?

In any case, that story serves as a metaphor to how we sometimes feel when life’s challenges come at us all at once, squeezing us in and pressuring us to perform and deliver, in some way, or remain stuck in the middle and die from slow aid! On many occasions, I have felt “stuck,” as if between a rock and a hard place, and have had that same experience of people around me offering all kinds of suggestions, from encouraging to condemnation and very little salvage. But now, I can use my childhood incident as the reminder that I had as well experienced “freedom” from that suffocating situation. The “rescue” came at the right time, at the 11th hour, as they say, even if it felt as if I would never encounter it. I’m learning in life to relax in the midst of all unpleasant circumstances and not to give too much credence to the thoughts of doom & gloom that oftentimes cross the mind when the going gets tough. I’ve had the terrible habit of thinking the worst possible scenarios during those times when my circumstances have brought me worry and concern, but I’ve also realized that I’ve done a whole lot of worrying for nothing, when the outcome turned out better than I had expected. All I want to say in closing is, please don’t be a spectator to any situation, unless you are there to truly help your fellowman see salvation from being stuck in the middle of something distressing.

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