Thursday, August 26, 2010

What would Nancy do?

I think life's small moments can often be as important in defining us as the big events. A few months ago I was stopped at a traffic light in the thick of rush hour traffic. It was a cool evening, and I had my windows down so that I could enjoy the breeze. It was the not-too-distant scream I heard while stopped that haunts a small part of me to this day.

What would you do if you heard a scream in the distance? This was the kind of scream that lodges deep in your gut, not really the sound of a toddler having a fit or kids playing. I looked around, craning my neck. I considered getting out of the car, but the practicalities of my situation soon mired me in my seat. Where was the sound really coming from? Was it off in that woody area? I'm stopped in traffic. I can't just abandon this car; it's not even mine. What if it is a child acting up? What if it was just an exotic bird?

Needless to say, I didn't do anything, and that lack of action still bothers me. Whenever I pass that intersection, I can't help but wonder if someone was in pain and needed help. I don't want to be one of the masses I read about in so many depressing news stories who witnesses a crime and just keeps walking because they don't want to get involved. I've always been a girl of action, someone who wants to stand up for those less fortunate or without a voice.

Maybe it's the fact that I'm slowly making my way through the Nancy Drew series, but I've found myself wondering what Nancy would do in this situation. Nancy was fearless, often to her own detriment. If Nancy had been driving her blue convertible down the road and heard a scream, she would have immediately pulled over and taken off running in the direction of the noise. There was never a battle Nancy was too afraid to fight, never a person she wouldn't help. She stared many a bad guy in the eye and told them exactly what she thought of them. Of course, the biggest threat to Nancy seemed to be the potential to be locked up and left to starve. Facing a bad guy these days usually entails the threat of gunfire, knifing, rape, torture or lord knows what. We find ourselves pausing, worrying about our own preservation or whether we should "butt in" to someone else's business.

I don't know about anyone else, but I want to live my life more like Nancy. Fearless abandon isn't always bad, particularly when it means the difference between helping someone in need or turning a blind eye.