My wife just gave me a new pair of slippers. I said to her, “I guess this means that it’s time to throw the old ones out.” They were moccasins lined with wool. I had worn them for two decades. The soles were sound, but the seams were coming apart. I reluctantly put them in the trash.
An hour later I went into the kitchen and saw that my wife had take them out. They were sitting on the floor like old friends. I reflected on how their shape and aging had been formed through daily life with my feet. They served me well for many years. And now at the end of their useful life, they cannot adapt to another person. I am the only who can fully appreciate their being and their history. They depend upon me for this.
My wife said, “I couldn’t bear to see them in there with the mild cartons and food scraps.”
“I’ll find a use for them.” I said.
— Shaun McNiff
in Earth Angels
~ . ~ . ~ . ~ . ~ . ~ . ~ . ~
This is a little essay I read several years ago. It affected me profoundly at the time and I wrote about it in the margin of the book. I said…
I, too, feel this way about damaged things. [When shopping at a second-hand store,] given a choice between a chipped teapot and a perfect one, I will buy the one that’s been chipped. I think that’s because I feel “chipped,” and maybe in some strange way it feels like it’s a way to try and redeem my soul.
That behavior still holds true to this day. In January I wrote a post, A Lesson From A Cup, that’s a prime example of how I am with damaged things. I accidentally broke a cup I’d just ordered as I was taking it out of the box. Knowing I could order another one (at Drollery’s suggestion), I went to throw it in the trash and I just couldn’t do it. It ended upon my desk as a pen holder!
In November 2014 I wrote a poem, Broken Angels, about a stained-glass angel my friend gave me years ago that always stood guard on a shelf by our front door. Someone accidentally knocked her off and stepped on her. She was all askew. Wings hanging loose, halo cattywampus. I threw her in the trash and then rescued her an hour later. It was the least I could do to repay the years of service she watched over our family.
This is how it always is for me. (Percy is looking over my shoulder saying, “And you call ME a Pack Rat!” He’s a pretty sensitive fella…)
But when I reread the essay today there was a bit that jumped out at me about a whole different subject. “They served me well for many years. And now at the end of their useful life, they cannot adapt to another person. I am the only who can fully appreciate their being and their history.”
It made me all teary because that’s exactly the way my mother felt after my dad passed away. She felt damaged and simply could not adapt. She, too, passed away 18 months later. And I don’t think I did a very good job of appreciating her history OR her being. Funny, isn’t it, how the passing of time can put a different spin on how we perceive things. Or maybe I’ve just grown up a lot… A little bit too late.
Percy says, “Hey! Long time no see!”. 😀 )
slippers — circusgeeks.co.uk
cup/Percy — moi