by thea marie
Sometimes the best lessons come to us in the strangest places and at the strangest times.
Forty-seven and at a place in my life where I’m realizing that the past is not a do-over, and the future a bit daunting if I don’t make some changes; I have become proficient at avoidance. It’s easier that way.
Time wasting has become my specialty. The uncomfortable gaps in my days are filled with benign, busy-work type activities designed to keep me from considering, or dealing with, the more demanding, more angst-producing details of my current existence.
I don’t want to think about the career I settled for, the one I’ve since come to hate. I don’t want to worry over my grown- but still aimless- children, my suspect husband, or my increasing distancing of myself from my family. (I'm tired of the mundane details of their lives, too.) So, I do mindless things while dreaming of my other, unlived, If-I-had-it-to-do-over life, or mull over the possibilities of my What-can-I-do-to-get-out-of-this-rut life to come.
Today’s time waster is cleaning out the kitchen junk drawer. The things that have been dumped into this one place over the years, amaze me. Was it assumed that by placing them there they would somehow attain a use or a purpose they didn’t have at the time they got dropped off?
Buttons, no two alike. Nuts, bolts, screws, and other assorted loose pieces of hardware. Never-read appliance/instruction/recipe leaflets. A baby’s ABC spoon. (The youngest child is now fifteen.) An assortment of pens and pencils, either non-functioning or in questionable condition.
The larger items make more sense: the screwdrivers, pliers, a hammer, two extension cords; although one lacks a plug on one end, just wires like feelers in search of something to feel. Several keys that only God knows what they unlock, and he, too, no longer cares. As if he ever did, about something as trivial as that.
At the bottom of the drawer, I find one of those lint rollers with the sticky paper that picks up lint and other loose objects in its way until there are no longer any sticky spots on its surface. That top sheet is then pulled away to reveal another fresh surface to which things can adhere until it, too, is full. And the rolling/ adhering/peeling/discarding process continues.
As I examine it, I can see that there are still a few layers left. It’s a keeper. So, I pick off the items that I deem salvageable; a match for one of the buttons already found, a few nuts and bolts, a couple of screws. I strip off that used, dirty layer and throw it away with the useless, at times unidentifiable debris still clinging to it
Without thinking, I place the roller on the counter with its fresh, sticky sheet exposed, so that I can go back to my work. It immediately rolls away from me. Before I can stop it, the sheet is dotted with more crumbs and a good bit of other residue scattered there from my efforts inside the drawer.
I am annoyed, but I realize that is what that tool was designed to do. That despite my best efforts to keep it clean, that process will continue until eventually the entire roll of sticky paper is exhausted and nothing is left except the smooth cardboard roll at the bottom to which nothing can adhere. At that point, its job will be done.
Until that time, however, it is up to the user, me, to control where the roller goes. I determine when and how it is used. I cannot always control what it picks up, but I decide what to keep and what to throw away once the sheet is full.
For a moment, I stand there, lint roller in hand, peeling away yet another layer- one which isn’t really all that used- and for some reason, my own life comes to mind.
And I wonder if somebody is trying to tell me something.