Sunday, April 10, 2011

The Mirror and the Drawer

An empty mirror and your worst destructive habits,
when they are held up to each other,
that is when real making begins.
That’s what art and crafting are.

A tailor needs a torn shirt
to practice his expertise.

The trunks of trees must be cut and cut again,
so they can be used for fine carpentry.

Your doctor must have a broken leg to doctor,.
Your defects are the ways
that glory gets manifested.

Whoever sees clearly what is diseased in himself
begins to gallop on the way.

There is nothing worse than thinking
you are well enough. More than anything,
self complacency blocks the workmanship...

Don’t turn your head.
Keep looking at the bandaged place.
That is where the light enters you.

And don’t believe for a moment
that you are healing yourself.


I look into myself, into the mirror, and sometimes, I don’t like what I see. And, sometimes, there is something I haven’t seen before, haven’t bothered to notice. Or, maybe it has just come to the surface, and I have made the time to discover it.

Each day is a new adventure, each glimpse into the mirror a new event, a fresh look, a fresh start. I am a bit different today, than yesterday. In that journey, I hopefully have grown a bit, and maybe improved with age. And, maybe something new has come to the surface, or I have found the courage to crack open some heretofore hidden drawer or cubbyhole.

Perhaps this is the day I pull open that drawer, and rummage around, taking inventory, discovering some new treasure, or array of junk, something that needs to be sorted through. Maybe its all destined for the garbage, but first, I must see what it is.

The other day, I came upon one of those well hidden drawers in the back of my childhood closet, the drawer pull rusty with time and neglect, the wood warped enough that I had to give it a sharp pull, the long neglected grooves shrieking with the new demands of movement and opening. A swirl of dust danced around my face, a few cobwebs gritty on my fingers, the silky threads dusty and brittle with age.

Inside were memories, long hidden, stuffed away. Yes, painful, sharp, making me gasp, and choke. Grime and rust coated the bent nails and rusted on nuts and bolts, and a bit of my heart blood from childhood splattered over the rusty metal, its once bright red color faded to a dingy black.

A tear ran down my face at the memory of it all, that afternoon so long ago. And, I remembered crying that day, too, crying at the pain and knowing that no one would hear me, or wipe away my tears. That day, I put that pain, that memory, in the drawer, so long ago, and slammed it shut, not able to figure it out. Later, I thought, when I’m older. Maybe, then, I’ll know.

Until today, so many years later, I was finally ready to yank open the squeaky, warped drawer. In the strong light of this morning, I see the rust, and the blood, and the contents of the drawer, soaked with my soul’s blood and my tears so very long ago, on that summer day.

Today’s tear falls on the rust, and the dried blood, and lets me see that junk in the drawer, for what it is, and what it means. The sharp metal now glints again, in the light of this discovery, and I see it for what it is. It has a name, now. Its spell on me lies broken, finally.

I can move on, now. Now that the drawer is open. Now, that the rusty junk is thrown in the garbage, now that the grit and cobwebs are gone, and it is, finally, what it is.

Looking in the mirror again, I can smile at myself. Good work, today, I say out loud. You cleaned out that drawer. You moved on. And, its about time.

Neal Lemery, April 2011

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