the most beautiful thing: keepsake again
They are tucked inside small boxes and snuggled between pages in the darndest places. They are perched on little shelves and hanging from walls in simple frames. Reminders of the heart, some spreading joy, some sending darts of sadness up into the veins on discovery. It is the ones tucked away in piles and under box lids that get me the most and I wonder why I’ve kept them. Why do any of us keep the things that remind us of love gone by? Because it is always about love, isn’t it?
I am preparing to move my little apartment belongings across town to another larger, though still little, apartment. In the sorting and the packing, I’ve begun (as I do every time I move or do a deep spring clean and purge) to uncover forgotten notes and drawings and photos and ticket stubs – all the little things that bring back images of hands held tight and breath exchanged at close range and eyes murky with the leaving. Just yesterday I picked up a little stack of drawings I’d once used to silently express love over video and instinctively looked around for a lighter. The instinct to keep things is rivaled only by the compulsion to destroy them.
And destroy things, I have also. The unbearable little reminders of love and romance, or intimate friendship and failure, I have often rid myself of, mostly when I was a more tender age. Older now, I know the missing of those things over time and so I tuck them away like some sort of time capsule. And again, I return to the question of why we keep these things.
I could hypothesize that it is to remember love (as if it were actually forgettable) or that we are simply masochistic when it comes to our heart-based punishment. Or that over time, these things really do shed from themselves the heartache and so the keep will some day only be a reminder of the joys. Someday. Someday is very rare, though, and I think it must be the little jolt to the heart that we want in the looking, the finding, the holding of these things. A reminder not only of the time, but of our fragile humanity, of the fragility of every situation, every hope, every love. Somewhere inside that jolt of fragility, there lives a lesson, a nice, simply Buddhist lesson. Perhaps two. Everything changes. Suffering is simply a part of all we do and have.
So, while I am waiting for the lessons to permeate my skin fully over the years, I just keep tucking the little reminders away again for another discovery. I say a little prayer that the next time I uncover them, it will be less painful, less jarring, provide less of a stumble. And that the human on the other side of the memory will have less pain from the memory, too. That the love moments encapsulated in the the small pieces of paper and ornamental objects will appear as what they were and truly are, moments of beauty.
Painting by Kenna Moser.