There are few things more appropriate on a mid-December morning than fresh, hot coffee. For me, this is true. Fresh, hot coffee and I go way back. We’re like this.
There’s something old-friend-like about this office. Sometimes I sit back, enjoying my initial mug of java while scanning the room and its panorama of memories. This was one of those mornings. . .
On the fireplace mantle rests an old green-and-white Corningware Corelle coffee cup.
You know, the kind where the handle is of one piece with the dainty cup, flowing and curling gracefully over, giving the impression one can actually hold it while full of hot coffee or tea. Inside are three partially-used grease pencils: around the white one hangs an
inexpensive clip-open keychain. You know the kind; you get them as a “But-wait!” offer if you act in the next ten minutes. In the barrel of the yellow one is stuck the pointy end of a tiny lapel pin, its metal tarnished by time’s passing. The red grease pencil stands by itself in mute witness to a few dozen adrenaline tsunamis.
Not a manly-man’s cup, you say? Nope. It was one of my mother’s when I was in high school and beginning college. I never liked those silly cups but kept one because of its story.
The pencils? I doubt many use them any more. I don’t. Yet I keep them around because of their story.
Then there’s the “But-wait!” keychain. Cheaply mass-produced and metalurgically worthless. I keep it, though, because of its story.
And the little pin? Not really much to look at. Anyone trying to see what’s on it has to do some serious squinting. I keep it, too, because of its—well, you know.
My creative space is full of just the sort of items like what’s found in that old cup. An interior designer would gut the whole thing, twirling and staring bug-eyed in disbelief at its proliferance of mismatched sentimental rubbish. “NOTHING MATCHES IN HERE!”
Wrong. Everything in here matches once you hear its story. . .
- That old Corelle ware cup was part of a set, a gift from my dad to my mother at a time when we were financially struggling. I didn’t know that because my parents were raising three children – my three eldest siblings – during The Great Depression, so what I saw as having little was seen by Daddy and Mother as being rich and blessed. That old cup perfectly matches my recollection of my days in high school and college prior to enlisting in the Air Force.
- The grease pencils came home from Alaska where I’d used them to write backwards on huge plotting and status boards. White was for all sorts of aircraft tracks and statistics, time, weather and miscellaneous information. Yellow was for questionable tracks we hadn’t yet ID’d. Red was for hostiles. We always scrambled interceptors after those. Hearts in throats, breathing fast and shallow, wondering if there’d be an empty chair in their squadron mess hall that night. Those pencils perfectly matched each of 361 days in 1975 and 4 in ’76.
- The cheap keychain had my high school graduation key attached to its end. That was a big milestone day for me. Though pathetically inexpensive to make, that little piece of gold-plated metal signified I was an alumnus Bulldog. Perfect match for some confused, frustrating, lonesome days.
- The lapel pin? It had a tiny 8th-note triplet stamped on it, over a tiny music staff with a harp and scroll superimposed on it. To wear it meant I was a member of Modern Music Masters while in high school. “Tri-M” to us. Not even an inch long nor half that much wide, that little plated bit of metal perfectly matched some grasped-at hopes and dreams for significance those Junior and Senior years of high school.
You’re getting it, right? My whole ‘office’ is home to these and so many more items, all of which perfectly match specific epochs in my passing life. They’re not mismatched in the least, for every one of them has a story to tell, experiences to share, lessons to impart.
Through them all I’m afraid I was intent on the road ahead. I had my eyes set on the path before me with little appreciation for the one under my feet. My greatest desire to my ‘now’ was for it to swiftly become my ‘then’.
I now know that was unworthy of me. I could have squeezed much more joy and meaning from those years, just as I used to watch my mother use that weird cone-shaped wooden pestle to squeeze all the good stuff out of whatever she had in her metal colander.
You may be wondering what gave rise to these thoughts–and with good reason. I normally give you those hints at the top. Today, I chose to hold them until last.
First is a brief Scriptural devotional thought that immediately resonated with the bit of encouragement to follow.
See if they don’t strum a resonant note within your own spirit.
I worship you, Lord, for you uphold all who are falling. You lift up those who are weighed down with affliction for you are the God of endurance and encouragement (Psalm 145:14; Romans 15:5).
This poked at me a little, reminding me how faithful God is to have my back when I’m weighed down – which I was all too often back there, wanting to just get on with it, whatever ‘it’ was.
What’s next poked at me a lot. Hopefully it will open your eyes and mind to see its worth for the remainder of your journey.
Beware of Destination Addiction – a preoccupation
with the idea that happiness is in the next place,
the next job, and with the next partner.
Until you give up the idea that happiness is somewhere else,
it will never be where you are.
Slow down. Appreciate what your ‘now’ has to teach. Later on down the road, it will be of greater worth to you.
Even if only as an oddity on your shelf. . .
© D. Dean Boone, December 2015