The Thing I Like About …

Househunting: the escape route.

In Househunting, two families are trapped in a house in the woods, a house they were visiting as part of an open-house tour.  Supernatural forces guarantee that they always have a can of stew to eat each day, and that no matter how far they go, in any direction, in any vehicle, they end up somehow back at the house.  They’re trapped there for months, trying each day to walk through the woods to the road and invariably finding themselves back where they started.

The phenomenally bored teenage girl – every horror film has a bored teenage girl – starts to do a puzzle that was left on the kitchen table.  She discovers that it’s a picture of the house they’re trapped in, and then, as she puts the last pieces into the puzzle, she recognizes it as a picture of herself, walking toward the house.  It occurs to her that the way out is to go backwards away from the house.  She tries it, walking backward and keeping her eyes on the house, until finally she gets to the road.

We so often find ourselves “trapped” in things/situations/events that we didn’t expect, don’t understand, don’t like, or all three.  We spend a great deal of time, effort, and emotion trying to dig our way out.  Or claw our way out.  Or run away.  We say quite often, “How did I get into this mess?” – but we persevere in our attempts to break through to the “other side” of our troubles, because we don’t like thinking that “progress” means going backward.  But maybe figuring out how we “got into this mess” is the best way to climb back out to where we want to be.  Maybe turning our backs on our troubles just leads us right back into them.

If we take a step back and really look at what’s trapping us, it will be easier to retrace our steps.  It will be easier to see how we got there, and what we would need to do differently next time.  Instead of “keeping our eyes on the prize” – that we may not even be able to see from where we are right now – we can keep our eyes on the quick-sands and tar-pits we’ve fallen into, so that we don’t fall into them again … and the only thing we have to be willing to do is to proceed without seeing where we’re going.

It’s scary to walk backwards through the woods and not know where you’re going, but, as the bored teenager discovers, facing that fear – and tripping over all the branches, brambles, and animal burrows – was a lot easier than going back into the trap.

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