Can you read those instructions? If you click the last photo, view it larger, can you read the last line? "Such breakage is no disadvantage, as pleasing applications can be made just as well with broken sticks." Wow. To be honest, I wasn't looking for some "profound in the mundane" moment when I took these photos. If I were telling you the complete truth, I'd have to admit to the fact that I was just really proud of this $.25 thrift score from a few weeks ago and a little giddy to show it off. What I've been typing, deleting, and retyping on this page this last week or um, well, two, is a way to convince a little sister that heartbreak isn't the break, isn't the knock that keeps you down. What I realized in my many failed attempts at something that might crack the shell of fear most commonly known as "alone" is the reality that this word- those five little letters - it's a very seductive bunch. And me? What do I know? How can I convince someone else that everything will be ok?
It reminds me, a little, of a little boy I see a couple times a week. Most days before naptime he's a teary sight, resistant to the downtime, not understanding the value of sleep when there are trucks! and legos! and puppies! to be played with - really, how could sleep be better than that? I always have this moment when something inside me wants to reach out, whisper the magic words in his ear, tell him how much he'll want that nap later, how very precious this thing called sleep will be, but alas, there are no such words, no reasonings that could possibly tell him what he'll have to learn himself.
And that's where I am with this sister, this beautiful, talented, successful, funny sister, who cannot possibly imagine now that yes, of course she'll be ok, yes, of course she'll meet someone new, be happier, live fuller, smile harder - of course. And of course I can and will say all these things over and over again, a gentle voice nudging out the lure of the "alone" - the myth that one other person, one romantic partner could erase its whisper, could silence the truth that being alone has nothing to do with anyone else but you. It brings me back to those chalk pastels, those broken sticks - there is no disadvantage in being broken - beautiful creations can and will come from those bits. It's the same with her, the little sister ready for the kind of completion that fools people into security, she'll pick up her pieces, put herself back together in a new way, possibly better than before. What was it Hemingway said, something about being stronger at the broken places? She will be, I believe, stronger, just as that sweet little boy will one day sigh and laugh a little at the irony of how fantastic a midday nap sounds. And as much as I want to, as much as I want to tell them what is coming, how sure I am of its arrival, my words are of no use in that way. Instead, I'll support, and listen, and ooh and ahh over how exciting a nap might be, or how fantastic it is to know there might be someone perfect for her out there right this minute wondering what's taking her so damn long.
In the 1970's animated film version of Charlotte's Web, the Goose says, "It is big and it is frightening at times, but on the whole the world is a wonderful place." As syrupy as this seems, it's true, I think, and that world- the big, frightening, beautiful one, it's drawn with broken sticks.