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  • Writer's pictureKelly Marks

A Little Moxie

Do you remember the Mary Tyler Moore Show? When I was little I wanted to be just like the title character Mary Richards and live in an adorable little attic apartment like she did. To be fair, I don't think I realized how cold it is in Minneapolis. I wonder how many times I threw a hat in the air trying to emulate her in the opening scenes. To an 8-year-old, that was pretty impressive stuff.

It was a great show about a young woman trying to make it on her own in the big city, but to be honest, she wasn’t really on her own. She was surrounded by a great cast of characters. Gavin MacLeod, who went on to Love Boat fame, was her co-worker Murray Slaughter who traded witty banter with her all day; Ed Asner played her cranky old boss Lou Grant, who really had a heart of gold; and of course, Betty White, who played a snarky, competitive nemesis, Sue Ann Nivens. And then there was news anchor and everyone’s foil,Ted Baxter, played by Ted Knight.

One of my favorite scenes was when Mary was interviewing with Lou Grant for a job at the news channel. At one point he looks at Mary and says, “You’ve got spunk, kid.” Mary begins to respond with a thank you, but before she can finish, Lou Grant chimes in with “I hate spunk”.

I hate to disagree with an icon, but honestly, if you have spunk, gumption, moxie - you are way ahead of the game, just like Mary Tyler Moore. These are the qualities that keep us going when the chips are down.

If we’re talking semantics, I guess bravery and courage are the same things as moxie and gumption, but there are subtle differences, varying connotations. The first two lend themselves to thoughts of things like young men and women heading off to war, acts of heroic proportions. Moxie is the stuff that brings it down to day-to-day life.

Moxie is bold and daring. It’s doing the right thing even when it’s not easy. It’s trusting your instincts even if they don’t line up with the picture in front of you. It’s being scared and doing it anyway. It’s asking a question or answering one when no one else is volunteering. It’s knowing the odds are against you and doing it anyway.

I think moxie might be a little like faith. It’s been said that faith is not setting sail with the destination in sight. It’s setting sail with nothing but water in front of you as far as the eye can see.

I remember New Year’s 2020. There was a lot of hype with the start of a new decade. People were ramped up. And then the year fell apart. New Year’s 2021, we were sure things were going to get better, but we were waiting and trying not to get our hopes up. And here we are at New Year’s 2022, just when we start feeling a little comfortable a new variant comes sweeping through.

This would be a really good time to feel tired and defeated, and we have a right to be, but now is when we need to summon our moxie, our gumption and meet this challenge head-on. And perhaps a saucy little hat toss wouldn’t be a bad idea!!

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