I recently re-adopted my old childhood stuff from a closet in my parents’ house. As I work my way through it, sorting, cleaning, throwing away, the assortment harkens back to an innocent, boundless way of moving through the world I often struggle to access as an adult. Old water damaged drawings, stapled original comics about bugs, dinosaurs, and space aliens. Beads from broken necklaces made at vacation bible school, jars of rocks and shells from who knows where, tarnished silver tea sets, three huge storage bags full of stuffed animals. (Still figuring out what the heck to do with those stuffed animals. Goodwill or trash seems too harsh a fate…[I blame Toy Story for this angst.])
There is so much about my childhood that I loved, and that shaped me in positive ways. As I sort through my various emotional dysfunctions, I’m finding myself better able to reconnect with the joy and gravity of those moments, mementos, and the people I love.
Among the miniature dragon hoard of old gadgets, trinkets from the dentist office prize bin, and gymnastics medals, I found a pink music box. Years ago, the tiny pink ballerina that spins delicately to the music snapped off. The lid was separating in places. I had never stopped to look at it long enough to even consider that it could be fixed.
I realized I had the tools on hand. I opened a miscellaneous drawer in my kitchen, found super glue for the ballerina, and craft glue for the box. After reattaching the broken pieces, I sat holding them together until the adhesives could set.
The box has stayed mended. My solution, so simple, yet one step outside my usual cognitive patterns, had worked.
I have since learned how to mend other neglected things: how to get the stubborn mothball smell out of new jeans, how to clean the sticky plastic residue off older electronics, how to remove oil stains, or sap from car windows…
It’s unexpectedly empowering.
Each new repair I learn reminds me that I have the ability to improve my life. That I’m not at all confined to the tools, the weaknesses, the identities, I started out with. If I don’t have the tools, I can gather them. If I don’t have the knowledge, I can learn.
I’ve begun to wonder more and more what aspects of scarcity and struggle in my life lie just one step, one tool, one tablespoon of baking soda outside the way things have always been.