Thursday, January 5, 2012

Little things mean... a lot

"Enjoy the little things, for one day you may look back and realize they were the big things."
Robert Brault

It's the little things in life, really, that set you in motion.

Yesterday, it was a little silver butterfly that fluttered sideways into the abyss that exists between my bed and the shelving that sits behind it. The butterfly earring is half of my favorite pair, and as I watched it slip out of my reach, I knew that it was time to clean out the hollow space underneath.

Cleaning out behind my bed is a lot of work- the shelf is heavy, and it takes all my strength to get the thing out just far enough for me to stick my arm under, and I'm not a big found of feeling around in the dark and not knowing what I will find. But my earring was there, and I wanted it back. So I bit the bullet and got to work.

I didn't anticipate the treasure trove that was waiting for me in the dark space. I pulled out my earring, but I also pulled out memories that were forgotten. My candy cane pen, the one that an old friend's mother gave me last year because it smells like peppermint when you write with it, brought back my early mornings journaling just as I finished school, when summer was new and life was all about being awake. Back then the writer dream was new, and I had high hopes for what I would publish before the winter struck- all forgotten now that life has happened before I got to finish. Two tubes of lip gloss rolled into my hand- lost reminders of an afternoon where two friends and I raided a make-up giveaway because we had time to kill before catching our train. We'd had the freedom to wander then, not afraid we'd run out of time.

Out popped another old earring, one that I used to wear all the time, before I realized that my ears hurt because of the weight it held. I got many a compliment, but also many-an-infection, and eventually, I forgot that I'd one loved them. And an old cd of german phrases I meant to learn so I could talk with amish people made me laugh at who I used to be. When I was younger I dreamt of being Amish, of living with them so that I might learn about their culture. I was a much stranger person back then.

As I looked over my little collection, I couldn't help but be touched by the symbolism of it all.

It's funny how remiss we are to look back over our lives. We don't like to clean out the small crevices that hide in the darkness.

We don't always want to remember the peppermint pens that marked new beginnings- the starts of dreams that we've since let sleep a little since the winters of our lives have started. We hide them away because we're afraid that we will be reminded of all that we haven't achieved.

We don't want to remember the lip gloss days we spent with friends. They just depress us when we look at the real life elements- the days spent working hard just to go home at night because we're too tired to go out. We get trapped in the clock- there is rarely enough time to wait for anything, never mind to mosey while waiting for a train. Even our vacations become over scheduled over a while- those precious moments spent with time to spare seem like the shadow of the past.

The weight of some memories are better forgotten. We leave the things that were heavy where we can't reach them so we have an excuse not to don them anymore. We don't want people to see the choices we've made that caused us pain, even if they may make us look better in the light. If we can hide them away, we don't see the consequences.

And of course, our best intentions are always just a little out of reach. We want to do things, start out on the right track, and then let them fall away. And when they get too difficult, we let them stay there, because we don't want to admit failure. One day we pull them out by accident, dust them off, and dismiss them as fantastical whims. But they nag at us just a little as we think about things which used to be important to us.

This is what I thought about as I cleaned the little things that had fallen away from my life out from behind my bed. Maybe it was an over analysis of what I was seeing- maybe too much sleep had finally caught up to me, leaving me contemplative and emotional.

Maybe I should stop leaving earrings where they might fall and I'll struggle to reach them.

But maybe it's what I thought- the little things- the reminders of what once was, that makes us think about what could have been. Or more importantly, maybe they are premonitions of what can be when we re-evaluate and remember what we've been through. Maybe the dark crevices of our lives need to be cleaned out in order to make sure that we are healthy, happy, and aware of who we are. Because those things get us moving on the right track, to who we want, and have always wanted, to be.

I'll take the symbolic route, and follow my butterfly friend to who I was, and to who I will be. And if it means I let the little things define me, so be it. If I can reach into the dark to find my beginnings, who knows what I can do when I fly into the light.

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