I talk to myself sometimes. Okay. Not just sometimes. I talk to myself a lot. Oh, it’s not always aloud. You might not know it to look at me, but even when I work silently, the conversation continues unabated. Frequently, there are outbursts; periods of unruly audible admonition. The words are intended for me alone, but those around are privy to my thoughts, whether they intended to be or not. I am talking to myself tonight. If you think you can stand it, you may feel free to spy for a few moments. You may regret taking the chance.
This particular conversation began yesterday and continued into this afternoon, as I packaged up the contents of my “hoarder’s room” in preparation for making it into a private office. She calls it that…”hoarder’s room”. Sometimes, she has insights into the nature of things which bring clarity to my confusion, sanity to my lunacy. I have known husbands who resent such events, but it is a good thing and I wouldn’t want it any other way. So, the hoarder’s room is going away, string collection thrown into the trash, random pieces of cardboard following close behind. I will no longer have to sit and write late into the night in full view of passersby and the local gendarmes, who feel the need to shine their spotlights on me as I peck away at the keyboard into the early hours of the morning. I have mixed feelings about my ability to write in total seclusion, but I’m willing to give it a shot.
Now…where was I? Oh yes, the conversation with myself. I was cleaning up the various heirlooms from days gone by and found myself sorting through boxes and boxes of old music and other paper goods. I hate old paper products, simply because of the effect they have on my breathing process. Paper is the perfect material to collect dust, and decomposing parts of bugs, and even mold, if it has been where it is damp. I had only sorted a short time when the sneezing began, followed closely by the coughing. Then came the tears. I will deny that the tears were due to having to dispose of my old treasures. They came exclusively because of my reaction to the invisible allergens contained in the old boxes of music. That’s my story and I won’t be moved from it. Such tiny particles, not possible to see at all, but they had a deleterious effect upon me, without question.
Then again this afternoon, as I labored, I finally reached my old photography backdrops against the back wall. No, I have never been a photographer, save in the most rudimentary of senses. Sales of musical instruments on the internet some years back required that the potential customers have the ability to view the products being offered, so I presented the merchandise as attractively as I was able. This entailed using backdrops of different colors to set off the various finishes of the guitars, or trumpets, or piccolos; a process in which I employed colored pieces of cloth material to achieve my goal. I have not used them for a couple of years, but still they hang draped over the lattice frame. Today, as I pulled one of them down to put it away, the Lovely Lady gasped. “There’s a brown recluse spider!” Almost before I could drop the cloth to the floor, she had her shoe in her hand and was ready to smash the vile thing. I’m not easily frightened, but I was shaken. He (or she) had been right beside my hand as I handled the cloth, potentially able to strike my hand without me being any the wiser until after the fact. We saw several more of these frightening spiders before the job was completed, all invisible to the eye until items were turned over or around. It gives me pause to think…How many were there that we didn’t see?
Funny, isn’t it? Beautiful, expensive instruments with a backdrop of color…all hiding a nasty secret. I wonder if the folks would have spent their great sums of money for those guitars, had they known that just inches away there was an ugly, dangerous thing like that. Do you suppose that they might have placed a different value on the item they were viewing? I’m not positive, but I think it likely.
This afternoon, as I readied myself for the job, I had entered the room worried that I would spend the whole time sneezing and with teary eyes, as was the case yesterday. The minor inconvenience of the allergy attack quickly faded into insignificance as I realized the danger I had faced without knowing it. A recluse bite is horribly painful and potentially crippling. Their venom doesn’t enter the bloodstream and paralyze, as the black widow spider’s does, but it slowly and inexorably rots the tissue around the bite, causing the area of dead flesh to spread unless the process is halted with medication or sometimes, surgery.
“But, what of your conversation with yourself?” you may ask. And, it’s a fair question, since I brought up the subject to start with. This afternoon, I was reminded anew of what is hiding behind the personal facade I have left up for many years. Oh, I want you to believe that they are just small problems, issues which are nuisances at worst. A sneeze here, a cough there. Why anyone can wipe the tears from their eyes and keep going. And, speaking honestly, I do have a number of those minor issues with which I am concerned and on which I am actively working. I will not try to hide them from you. But the other, more serious faults; the dangerous ones which lurk behind the pretty picture I want you to see? Those, I wish to hide. Those, I will even deny if you mention them. The result of these issues can be much more serious.
Don’t let the carefully tended image fool you. I have sins with which I struggle, faults which can and will cause great harm to those in my vicinity (and further) if they continue unchecked. My inner conversation goes on. But, I hope it’s a conversation which you have with yourself also. We need to constantly be vigilant to keep the ugly recluses from hiding behind the fabric of our lives, but just as much as that, I believe that we need to be ready to expose the ugly things for what they are.
I’m reminded again of the Great and Wonderful Oz, who really wasn’t either. “Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain!” is bad advice, both when we are the ones hiding there and when we are the ones seeing what others are hiding behind their pretty fabric.
Time to pull down the backdrop. My inner voice tells me that it will hurt, that you might not like what you see in me. It doesn’t matter. The facade must come down. And, little by little, I’m starting to listen to what my heart is telling me.
I only hope that’s not a shoe in your hand…
“Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary, the devil, walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.”
(I Peter 5:8~NKJV)
“…I was talking aloud to myself. A habit of the old; they choose the wisest person present to speak to; the long explanations needed by the young are wearying.”
(Gandalf~from “The Lord Of The Rings”~J.R.R. Tolkien)