At the start of our final gathering of 2017, we began our planned meeting with a quick check-in and a mindfulness session led by our member Vinita. But as we initiated our dialogue about closing the current year and welcoming the new, an unexpected fire alarm test interrupted our peaceful conversation with a loud and nearly unbearable noise that refused to cease even to the end of our session. The atmosphere of the gathering became uncomfortable as we tried to hear and make ourselves heard over the horrible blaring. I myself had to raise my voice to a near-shout to continue speaking and sharing my thoughts. Some of the others struggled like me, while others in the group chose to sit in an uneasy silence.
I suddenly realized that even this hard-fought effort to communicate could be taken as a sign and insight for the new year. Even as we lay out our best plans and resolutions, the unexpected might always take us by surprise and upend our carefully-laid intents. In those moments, we need to ask ourselves what to do in the face of that disruption; do we choose to back off and keep quiet? Or do we raise our voices and make ourselves heard?
As uncomfortable as the session might have been, it provided just the insight I needed to start the year on thoughtful note. While we might not all have to struggle against the sound of a blaring alarm in the coming year, we will all face disruption in its various forms. I encourage all women to choose the latter option when encountering unbearable interruption: to lean in and speak up even in the midst of uncertain difficulty.