I sometimes feel life is like one of those "pop-up-and-bash" games at the arcade hall in malls and at holiday resorts. You know the one, ten holes. A mole doll pops out of a random hole and you whack it on the head before it disappears, only for it to reappear from another hole.
As a writer, words sometimes pop out at me, and I engross myself in exploring that word, and how I can build a story around it. Recently the word "engagement" popped off a page and demanded my recognition. True to habit, I rolled the word around in my mouth as I pondered the multitude of possible uses.
This is not a word that tolerates any degree of ambiguity. It's clear, you slot the cog into place and the wheel turns. You put a ring on the finger and you demonstrate your commitment. As words go, engagement speaks of strong intent, and cannot be mistaken for any other type of word but a verb. It is one hundred percent committed to doing.
Engagement is not easy to say. It requires extreme width from the mouth to produce the initial "en" sound. The mouth must change shape to squeeze the lips together for the start of "ment". As the speaker of the word, one has to engage all facilities to successfully produce the word. "Ah" I hear you say, "I know where he is going with this article."
A kid stands in front of the "pop-up-and-bash" game. Indifference dominates his posture and he shows no commitment in his attempts to strike a mole doll. As a result the child scores poorly in the game. But, my story isn't about the child's unwillingness to bash a mole on the head with a sponge bat in fear of hurting the poor creature. As good an angle as that is to talk about "engaging in your goals and ambition in order to succeed" (Hmm, I may just do an article on that sometime!) the kid wasn't the focus of my attention.
I don't handle rejection or indifference well. As a writer and businessman I harness a lot of courage in order to engage with target audience and potential clients. Any sign of rejection turns me into a bashed mole and I dive for cover within the safety of the machine. This flight mechanism from rejection is learned behaviour from failed relationships. My first failed marriage was a long lesson in disengagement which caused me to hide.
As the word engagement started to create a story of its own, I realised that rejection and its effect on my emotional well being makes me resent the words meaning. As the machine engages its gears, it forces the mole out of the comfort zone and exposes the hapless creature to possible beatings. Maybe there is a lesson in the speed at which the mole pops out the hole, disappears and reappears elsewhere. Maybe the lesson is about avoiding the effects of rejection by allowing your enthusiasm and engagement to move you quickly and creatively.
My naturally positive disposition wouldn't allow me to wallow in the darkness of the machine's belly. I don't hide forever, just long enough to lick my wounds. The machine gets older, and some kids engage in mole bashing enthusiastically and very energetically, causing the "pop-up" mechanisms to fail. The mole does not pop far out of the hole. Actually, it's more like the mole sneaks from its hiding place. Sometimes just a nose is visible. The bashing has caused my enthusiasm to engage with zeal and dedication to fade. My frail engagement is apparent in a second failed marriage, half hearted sales pitches and weak storylines.
This pale attempt at popping out of a hole just defies the whole purpose of the game, defies the whole purpose of life. Maybe the point of my story is that like the mole, I need to commit, be energetic and launch out of the darkness. Engagement demands that we enthusiastically appear, whether the audience is ready or not, whether we get bashed or not. After all, the purpose of the mole is to pop up, interact with others by getting bashed, and reappear with vigour.
Regardless of the mole and its energy, I have realised it is those that are engaged in life, in their work, in learning, in relationships, in adventure, in fellowship, are the people that are getting the benefit from their lives. The thieves, rejection and withdrawal need only steal our wiliness to engage in order to turn us into shadow hugging recluses, hiding from the multitudes of rewards life has to offer. The point of my story may be unclear, but the message is singular in intention: if you are like me, engage in your life, in your emotions. Open your heart, your eyes and your lungs to enjoy this beautiful life.