Pieces of our story wait to be collected. They appear as an apron in a Dorothea Lange photo, a Girl Scout Handbook on ebay, the gray of a February sky, six words of family myth revisited.
Whether or not it was true doesn't change its meaning. My father claimed that his father, in the ordered space that was his farm tool shed, kept a coffee can on which he'd stuck a label, Nails too bent to be straightened. The thrift demanded by farm life during the Depression, added to the magnitude of lack that defined my grandfather's childhood, saw that nothing went to waste. It may have been said in teasing, which seemed the basic form of communication among these people, but I always believed that my grandparents had the ability to conjure whatever was needed out of whatever was at hand. Bent nails would have found a purpose.
For me, the greater meaning was metaphor. The phrase has always been with me. Somewhere along the trajectory it became a phrase I used to describe myself to myself. It represented the version of me that I assumed was true, the result of my life experiences. I believed that various traumas, losses and betrayals had hijacked my real life, my possibilities, the hope of happiness, leaving me defective and insufficient. This, of course, was once I realized that those events had such a profound impact on my choices, my state of mind.
Some of us awaken more slowly than others. Consciousness needed to shadow me, patiently, hiding subliminal messages in popular songs, movie soundtracks. With peerless manipulative skills, it arranged for excessive periods of quiet. It made me sit still, then innocently suggested materials I might peruse, teachers from whom I might learn. Sometimes it found the process too slow and just kicked my ass.
In recent days, from nowhere I can identify, came the possibility that I was never meant to be a nail doing a nail's job. What if the circumstances that shaped me into what I thought of as damaged delivered me to my true purpose, my real life? At her blog, Twisted Knickers, Susan has been exploring authenticity. I feel I'm being asked to step up and say "I do" to merging my imaginary tidy and consistent persona with the bent, disheveled, disparate bits that I find somewhat odious and not always fit for public viewing and declaring us to be one. It replicates the sensation of being put in the air-lock on Battlestar Gallactica.
Do I go back and re-evaluate everything there has ever been or do I simply start from here? The combo plate seems a good choice. There is new illumination for old tales and a call for acceptance at a level previously unknown. This must be what it was like when Oprah learned she had a half-sister, only I get to play both parts.