A colleague attended a breast cancer support meeting recently. She said they had been asked to bring along an object that they treasured, something that had a story attached, an item of personal significance. They would then tell the group the story behind that special object.
I'm sure those stories would have run the gamut of emotion from hilarious to tearful, poignant to pleasing, and frightening to calming.
As I sat here at my desk, I can see plenty of things roundabout. I confess I am a bit of a collector and tend to hang onto stuff - and most will have a story hanging about them like an aura. Sometimes that aura is bright pink for breast cancer, other times red, an aura colour that can both attract and repel. If you think hard enough, you'll find a story in any object.
The picture here is of Susie. She might look a bit like the scary doll-babe from the movie Annabelle but Susie is far from malevolent. She is a family heirloom and belonged to Mom when she was a kid. This is kinda what dolls looked like back in the early 1930s. Mom kept Susie her whole life. When Mom was in the hospital, towards the end of her life, she asked for her childhood companion, and Susie was with Mom when she passed away.
So for me, Susie conjures up plenty of things I could write about. Not only can I remember Susie always being around my whole life - and to be honest, she used to give me the creeps when I was little, with her torn little face and funny, thready hair (she was a poor cousin to my flash and dashing Barbie and Ken dolls) - but she makes me remember Mom, not just the last days she was with us, but as she was - funny, playful, entertaining, and joyous.
Have a look around at the things that surround you at your desk: I am currently looking at the following:
- a glass kitty-cat with an arched back and yellow eyes given to me by a dear friend with whom I have regular and fabulous writerly lunches at the Buddhist temple cafe;
- one of those M & Ms characters you see in the ads for the candy; he's blue, holding up one hand in a crazy salute, given to me by a friend who always brings a packet of M & Ms when she visits;
- a glass paperweight with a gold shamrock on the top given to me years ago by a southern gentleman from the state of Georgia who restored vintage American cars, as a farewell gift when I left the USA to return to NZ for good;
- a handwritten note that I've kept for years, jotted down by my writing mentor, Mrs. M, that says: 'Have faith in yourself. You're doing what you want to do and that's an accomplishment in itself. Viva Zapata! (Whatever that means).' I look at it often to boost my spirits when this old writing gig gets too hard;
- a red and orange coffee cup now full of pencils and pens that used to belong to a set called 'Sleepy Sheepy' .
I'm not sure about the story behind that one, but give me time and I'll think of it.