The Old Paths: Tear the roof off

By Leslie Bray Brewer - Special to The Stokes News

The brown wooden deck beside my lounge chair seemed to be turning pink as I sat outside enjoying the unseasonable weather. Pink? Was I seeing things? Aha! I am no nuclear physicist, but it didn’t take me long to realize that the sunset, blocked by my house, was reflecting onto my east-facing deck.

Now you know I love a good sunset, so I had to run inside to be able to behold the beauty from a window at the back of my house. But all too soon, I felt torn between gazing at the loveliness through the window or going back outside to enjoy this unusually pleasant weather.

Then it hit me like a truckload of cement blocks. All it would take for me to be able to sit on the deck and see the sunset clouds over the roof of my house would be to turn my chair around and slide back a little. Gee, what a novel idea!

You see, my habit is to sit with my chair facing the lush green woods that comprise my front yard—my back to the house. I mean really—who wants to sit outside facing a dull taupe-colored wall? But for just a tiny segment of each sunny day, I could turn to face my house and see something beautiful just above the roofline where normally there is nothing to see.

I shook my head in disbelief as I realized how easily we humans get stuck in a rut. We do things the same way for so long that we don’t think to try something different. Then we get bored with the mundane routines of our lives and wonder how to escape the monotony.

Sometimes it’s the simplest solutions that escape us.

From my new vantage point on the deck, I savored the wispy cotton-candy-colored clouds, and I recalled a similar situation from last spring. For the eight years I had lived in this house, at sunset I had craned my neck sideways from my couch to look out that back window to glimpse the glory. Since sunsets change literally every second, I would repeatedly sit back and type a little, lean forward to look out, sit back to work again..…over and over…..until the splendor was spent.

Occasionally I would go stand at the window a few minutes, but then feel guilty for loafing and thus hurry back to my laptop. But on that memorable spring evening, I had a “Eureka” moment. It occurred to me to simply pull a chair over to the window and sit there to type with the sunset full in my face until the color show was over.

Will somebody please bring me the Staples’ “That was easy” button? Or perhaps the “How could I have been so dense?” button?

Do you ever wonder what simple things you’re overlooking in your life? It is so easy to climb into life’s box of ruts and habits and stay there. From a young age, we are channeled into classrooms, taught to think according to a school system’s or society’s guidelines, trained to move to the sound of a bell or buzzer.

We learn to be good citizens, not to rock the boat, not to question authority. That can be good, but it can also stifle free thinking.

I remember being a little girl who loved to try on my mother’s size-six shoes. I longed for the day that my foot would grow to that size! So when I grew up, guess what size shoes I always bought for myself? Size six. Problem is…..I needed a seven.

I continued to squeeze my foot into a six until one day by accident I tried on a seven and realized my toes weren’t cramped any more. It was a glorious yet startling revelation! Because my mother’s size-six shoes had seemed the epitome of adulthood to my little girl self, I didn’t question that there was anything beyond that.

But there was.

That may seem an overly-simplistic example of the limits we unintentionally put on ourselves, but it serves the purpose of illustrating that we often form our assumptions about life when we are but children. I believe it is up to parents to urge their kids to dream big, seize the day, think outside the box of conformity and normality.

I am reminded of the Bible story in which Jesus was teaching in a house so full no one else could enter—like a sold-out concert. There were some very determined folks who wanted to get their sick friend in to see Jesus. So what did they do? When they couldn’t get in the door, they tore off the roof and lowered their bedridden buddy down through the ceiling on his pallet. He got the miracle of healing he needed because his friends dared to think creatively.

I doubt Jesus would’ve approved of the music I listened to as a teenager on the old paths, but there was this one song by Parliament Funkadelic called “Tear the Roof Off.” Maybe it’s time for some of us to tear the roof off our own lives and see what glorious adventures await us.

What is it you’ve been longing to do but just assumed it would never happen? Begin to think outside the norm, tear the roof off and make it happen! I’ve longed for years to go to Philadelphia and run up those iconic steps that Rocky Balboa ascended at the Museum of Art. I’ve imagined myself climbing them to the tune of “Gonna Fly Now” then standing at the top with my arms raised in victory the way the Italian Stallion did.

I assumed that by now I didn’t have the stamina for that and that my money might be better spent elsewhere. But I’m at that “Carpe diem” season of my life where I throw my assumptions out the window, tear the roof off and go for it! By thinking outside the box of normal vacations, the hubster and I have decided to go to Philly for our annual anniversary trip— to catch a baseball game, see the Liberty Bell and climb those stairs.

In the meantime, I’m going to start training by getting out of the rut of my comfy couch and simply walking the hills and hollows of my property each day—another simple solution outside the box of the traditional “buy a membership to a gym to get in shape.” I won’t be playing Parliament Funkadelic on my antiquated Sony Walkman, but I might just play that Rocky theme, and I can guarantee you I won’t be wearing size six sneakers.

Come on—climb out of the box with me, escape the ruts of ordinary life, dare to dream, look beyond the roofline, adjust your life to see the splendor of the sunsets…..before they’re gone.

Leslie Bray Brewer can be emailed at Her blog is at

By Leslie Bray Brewer

Special to The Stokes News