Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Me: An Allegorical Journey

I think that, in order to move on to the next stage of one's life, one must clean out the attic and throw away the impediments of the past: fear, anger, frustration, self-doubt. All of those things that hold us back and prevent us from becoming.

Becoming what? Becoming what we want to be, who we deserve to be.

2011 was a whirlwind year for me, but there were bouts of extreme negative feelings for me, as well. For all the happiness and blessings in my life, there were moments of serious frustration.

So, it's time to clear out the attic of my soul. Perhaps by doing that, I can prepare myself to move on to 2012 with clear vision and purpose...

Opening the latch to the attic and pushing open the little doorway prompts a shower of dust to fall over us. We shake it off and push through, shining our light across our surroundings. Boxes are scattered everywhere. Most are cardboard boxes, but there are a couple of pieces of old luggage, some milk crates, and there seems to be a heavy safe back in the furthest recesses of the attic. The milk crates are open and easy to go through, so we'll start there.

The first one is full of clocks. Alarm clocks, stopwatches, wall clocks. Each one missing hands or simply stopped and never restarted. They represent the time that has been wasted and the time that was never successfully found. They'll be the first to go, except for one. At the top of the pile is a gold pocketwatch. It is engraved with a bird in flight. Opened, it reveals a perfectly clear face and hands that are still ticking away. On the back, another engraving: "It's your time to soar." We'll keep this watch and use it to find and make the time we'll need to be creative in 2012. Sliding it into our pocket, we hand down the rest of the crate. One down.

The next box we come to is closed. When we open it, we find that it is full of needles, those needles of self-doubt that stab into us when we get new ideas or want to try new techniques. Or when we simply want to create. Many of the needles are rusted; they have been used already. But some are fresh and sharp, ready to go to work on our psyches. We pull out one needle, examining it in our fingers. Not this time, we think to ourselves. We carefully grip it and bend it into a circle. Let self-doubt stab itself for a change. We push this needle into our pocket, and the rest of the box is handed down the steps to be thrown away.

Pushing through some cobwebs, we find a laundry basket overflowing with socks. As we start to sort through, we find colorful socks in the most amazing patterns. Excited, we start to sort through further, hoping to find mates to each of these socks. Time wears on and we become frustrated. Our efforts are proving fruitless. Then we realize it. We have discovered frustration. Frustration at not finishing things. At not finding what we're looking for. Well, we have wasted enough time with that. We throw all the socks back in the basket, and slide the basket across the attic floor. It falls through the trapdoor and lands below with a satisfying whump! There'll be no more of that frustration in the year to come.

A suitcase catches our eye. It is black with bands of leather across the top. The leather bands are attached to buckles which latch to keep the suitcase secure. The buckles have rusted shut, but the leather is cracked and worn. It only takes a couple of strong tugs to break them free. Opening the suitcase, we find it full of photographs. Each photograph is a frozen memory in time. Rather than flipping through them with the excitement of precious memories, we gasp at the stab of pain we feel in the pit of our stomachs. For these are the photos of those memories that bring us sorrow. The memories of the injustices we've endured. Of the people who have hurt us. Some of the pictures are old, practically crumbling to pieces. We take a couple of them in our hands and grind them together, watching them turn to dust. We can let those memories go. Other pictures are new, their colors too bright and their memories too sharp. They are the ones that hurt the most. We look at them and wonder how we can ever let them go, ever forget the images before us. We can't.

But we can do something else. We sort through and pull out the memories that haunt and hurt us the most. With these in hand, we close the suitcase and send that to the garbage with the rest of the boxes we have already gone through. The pictures we pulled out, we will keep. Not to remind ourselves of the pain, per se. But to remind ourselves that we are strong. That we survived. And that bad memories make the good events in our lives resonate and shine all the brighter. We will put these images in scrapbooks surrounded by all the happy images of our lives. The bad memories will be forced to diminish and fade and crumble to dust as we add more and more happy images to our books. We set these pictures aside, satisfied that we can move on.

A single photo lays on the floor before us. It fell out of the suitcase before we closed it. Tentatively, we reach out and pick it up. Brushing dust off its surface, we see our own face. It is faint, faded. On the back is scribbled one single word: Afterthought.

We sigh. How often have we felt that way, like an afterthought? Sometimes even worse, an afterthought that never comes to fruition, that is never...thought at all. How many times have we been overlooked? Underestimated? How many times have people forgotten our feelings because we appear so easy-going? We think of all those times--the forgotten invitations, the overlooked plans, the stolen ideas, the trampled-on feelings--we think of them, and we weep.

Tears coat the picture in our hands, blurring and fading it more, like pieces of ourselves are disappearing more and more. Our hands tremble and we are tempted to crumple the picture up in our hands. But that would wipe us out altogether, we fear.

So, we smooth it out, wiping the tears and more dust from the once-glossy surface. We see a frame in a nearby stack and we put this picture within the confines of wood and cardboard and glass.

We will not forget the woman in this image. We will feed and nurture her. We will stand back and smile when her inner light burns brightest. We will envelop her and protect her when no one else realizes that they need to do it. We will be her champions and her guardians, and we will remind her that she is not an afterthought to herself. That she matters. And we will guide her down new paths of discovery and self-discovery in the year to come.

We hug the framed image to our hearts, and we look around the room. There is still a great deal of work to do here. Much that needs to be done. But we have started the process. And for today, that is enough.



  1. Amazing writing Nichole! I hope your attic has good energy flow and light now that you've dusted it out! I was in a similar attic almost 15 years ago and It's never filled up with those things again! I'm looking forward to your creative endeavorers in 2012! I'm sure it will be your best yet! xo

  2. I enjoyed this post beyond words. I will be reading it over again and again the next few days.

    It is a wonderfully descriptive analogy that really hit home.

    I am glad you could clear away the negative clutter and wish you all the best in your upcoming endeavors for the new year!

  3. Thank you, Laura and Alex!! The last twenty-four hours have been very powerful in terms of introspection and figuring things out. I'm far from finished with the process, but I think 2012 is going to prove to be quite profound!!

    Thank you for the validation of my words, too! I'm feeling pretty raw today...but in a good way!! :)

  4. Amazing writing Nicole! And it is really timeless...I am a lot older than you but can really relate to so many of those feelings! I'm glad I logged on today; I will also be reading this again! Happy New Year to you!

  5. Dear Nicole,

    I support you totally in your growth and experimentation. Your barn photos are wonderful, but you are much more than that.

    You are so kind and supportive and such a talented writer. And I love it when you experiment and put yourself out there. That's one of the things that Flickr is so good for.

    Your blog was amazing. I can't imagine being able to put my feelings on paper like you do. Sometimes I think that true artists are born of pain and self doubt. And you are an artist in every sense of the word.


  6. Thank you, Aggie and Lana!!

    I can't express how much your comments mean to me! This blog just poured out and I posted before I gave myself time to even mull it over! I'm glad that it's had such a strong impact! <3