I wasn’t sure what to call this piece. I just knew I wanted to share how I felt. Once I reflected on the feeling, Alice Walker’s Their Eyes Were Watching God kept replaying in my mind. The passage of Janie standing there in the middle of the floor until something fell inside of her is as close as I can get to explaining it to anyone else. Her love and idea of Joe falling away are my fears and “needs” doing the same.
“Janie stood where he left her for unmeasured time and thought. She stood there until something fell off the shelf inside her.”
I was getting ready for work one morning when I felt a small thump from inside my chest. Noticeable for a slight pause and to wonder, What was that? but not nearly enough to make me stop my routine and check myself out of concern. With the rush of my morning, I honestly didn’t have time. I reached for my large pick to quickly stretch out my curls and made a mental note of, Later.
“Then she went inside there to see what it was.”
It took me a couple of weeks to return to the feeling and understand what happened that morning. Daily responsibilities and mundane tasks quickly take precedence over matters that should be at the top of my list, but I digress. I call it the "unnecessary thing." It is intangible, yet it molds and forms to you; grows and seeps into cracks unhealed. Ideas and practices I held space for so many years. I placed it there–my little shelf on the inside, many years ago, and the unnecessary things became a part of me. At times my inner voices read from its pages and sometimes chapters. I did a purge over the years, or so I thought. The "unnecessary thing" always seemed to find its place. Never moving as it was now a part of my story. Then without rhyme or reason the unnecessary thing fitting snugly on the shelf fell.
“But looking at it she saw that it never was the flesh and blood figure of her dreams. Just something she had grabbed up to drape her dreams over in a way she turned her back upon the image where it lay and looked further”
Strange how important we make things and people in our lives when they should pass from us like a tumbleweed blowing in the desert–do you ever see anyone chasing after it? Even after doing the work of therapy, reading the books, and implementing boundaries, I’d kept those unnecessary things on my personal shelf. Maybe for comfort. Or comparison. To say, “Look. Look at how much I’ve learned,” but to who and why? Looking at them now, the unnecessary things: the care of what people may think, the fear of failing and looking silly in the process; the fear of never actualizing the clear picture of the life I want. My constant need to do it perfectly the first time instead of messy and clumsily; the thought of doing anything without knowing the outcome. All of it. It feels strange to look at knowing this was in my possession. Almost inconceivable how it was able to stay with my persistence for better. My need to be free and clear of junk. To breathe easier and with more clarity.
“She had an inside and an outside now and suddenly she knew how not to mix them.”
There is a chance a page or two will slip back inside, folded and compressed between other books or underneath a paperweight. It’s just life ya’ know. We learn, explore, implement, face familiar challenges as tests, meet new ones and then repeat the cycle. Maybe next time it’s not a thump but a tap. A small reminder room was made for the unnecessary things to fall away.
The brief and simple nuance of life and literature.