Thursday, October 23, 2014

The Magic of Recognition

The box was labeled “Kitchen. Heavy. Fragile.” Lifting those Blue Willow dishes onto the counter had a profound effect on me. The morning sun was seeping into the kitchen and the light fell just “so” onto the familiar pattern. The white counter created a blank canvas that allowed my eyes to form a picture so comforting that I had to pause and smile.

That simple act of recognition fortified me. I knew from that moment that I was going to be OK, that we’d made the right decision to move. Crazy. A box of dishes, old and chipped grabbed me by the gut and said, “You’re fine! You’ve got this!”

Sometimes all it takes is a glance, a chance encounter with something from your childhood. A memory, a smell, the taste of gingerbread as leaves begin to fall. Our minds work with our emotions and senses to create a sense of well-being. I “knew” this but I suppose it took the act to solidify the truth of it.

Holding those dishes during supper remind me of my grandmother and my mother, Seeing them on my open shelves relate comfort. Inanimate, fragile, one day shards of dust they anchor this gal to the here and now and the reality that, regardless of where I find myself, I am still “me”. Location can’t change that. Loss of something I thought I couldn’t live without doesn’t erase a piece of me.

Things. What is it about them that help us hold on? Since we’ve moved I’ve often wondered about the people who lose everything, who have nothing familiar to shift from lost house to new home. I used to be able to say I could do that. It can’t be that hard. It’s just, as I have to remind myself, stuff. 
But, oh how we don’t really know how much of our comfort is wrapped up in a chipped tea cup, a well-thumbed novel, or a photograph of our father. When they aren’t there, we flounder. When they are, however, they smile down from new shelves and out of strange windows to whisper familiarity in the midst of the unknown. Those people who lose everything and soldier forward, pick up the pieces, and retain their sense of self I admire. I applaud. I am in awe and if you, Reader, have ever found yourself in that situation, if I was there, I’d hug you.

I need recognition from inanimate things. I need that silent welcome home.

Have you ever uprooted your life and sought solace in something familiar? A book, a poem, a song? Perhaps a photograph or a statuette of a squirrel. For me, it was a mixed up set of Blue Willow dishes. You?

Enjoy the rest of your week and your weekend,


  1. I uprooted myself twice and only took what could fit in my car. No furniture. No dishes. Just my photo albums, my journals, work portfolio and clothing. I think my journals and photo albums are what rooted me in the new place.

  2. My Mom has plates/dishware that root me in our relationship. Knowing they are there when I visit is enough. Getting to use them is even better. Two days ago we went out to eat, but I thought of those plates/dishware as we ate. Just knowing is enough to make me smile.

  3. Karen: It takes a very brave person to leave everything behind and start over again. Thank you for posting this. Sometimes I feel as if I'm the only person who has lived through this...even though I know that's impossible!

    Dean: I'm so thankful that I'm discovering how so many people are grounded to place and rooted to home through "things". It's comforting to find myself belonging to a greater human experience. Makes my current struggles much easier to get through :)

  4. One thing I've always held onto are the journals I've kept since I was a little girl; I can't bring myself to throw them away, because rereading them reminds me of what it was like to be ten, sixteen, twenty-five. It's interesting to read about those experiences in retrospect.

  5. Why have I missed some posts? Are you posting more?
    I need to subscribe via e-mail. so I don't miss any!


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