Saturday, 25 October 2014

Growing New Eyes

I wrote this blog before the horrors of this week's shootings. Even so, I don't think I could have said anything as well as what my friend Joy wrote in her blog at 
Thanks, Joy, for the reminder, again, that what we do matters, that community matters.
One of the things I like about travel is that you see things – often weird, wild, wonderful, and sometimes profound things. Back home, we’ve grown accustomed to the way things are, but when you’re on the road, it’s like you’ve grown new eyes. On our travelling days, I kept a list of such sights.

Did you realize that God’s House is a blue bungalow? Yes, it is: it’s located on a highway in Arizona. And who could resist a peek at Heaven on Earth, announced on a road sign in Northern California? Well, I looked, and I’m here to tell you that Heaven on Earth is a brown, barn-like structure beside I-5 with a banner announcing that it serves the best cin amon buns in the world. No, that’s not my spelling error; apparently, there’s no spare money or time in heaven on earth to replace the lost N.

Spelling errors abound in road signs, as well: a billboard for the El Rancho Hotel in Gallup welcomes Pilgrams. Nice – in metric, even. We read a billboard for Indan City. A mile later, another billboard welcomes us to Indian City. To be fair, we didn’t see a whole lot of misspelled signs on this journey (at least, not that we noticed!) If you want to see some real doozers, however, just google misspelled road signs. Apparently, road-sign installers are not too picky about details when it comes to Hihgways and Biwaze.

There were incongruities – businesses like Navajo Feed and Pawn; Rocky Mountain Fireworks and Furs; Wildcat Christian Academy (“Snarling for Jesus”?); Warhawk War Museum; and a business that sold Guns and Accessories. What does a well-dressed gun slinger wear to accessorize his recently purchased weapon? Perhaps new boots and a designer bandana?  Speaking of guns, Al was horrified to find himself pumping gas next to one of those well-appointed gun slingers casually sporting a hip rifle. We couldn’t wait to get out of there.

So then we came home. Someone this week reminded me that before I point out the speck of sawdust in someone else’s eye, I should check my own for a log. She’s right. It’s one thing to poke fun at things you don’t understand, quite another to realize how much you yourself need to change, as well. I still have my new eyes in place, and I am horrified at what I find, right here in my own home. We are trying to empty our trailer, and we can’t even find space on our library shelves, pantry shelves, garage shelve, etc., to put away the paltry few things we were able to survive on while living in a 250 square foot trailer. My new eyes show me  reality: we have too much stuff.

Really, how many coats can I wear at once? Just how many shoes do I really need? And if the freezer is full, why are we congratulating ourselves on the latest good buy in the frozen food section?

Another eye-opener: I’ve been proclaiming the wonders of Thrift and Free Stores – how we can help the world and support charities by buying other people’s cast-offs, thus fulfilling two of the three R’s of the environmental movement, Reuse and Recycle. But I’ve been neglecting the third R:  Reduce. Also, I’m weak in another R: Resist. How can I resist when I walk into my favourite thrift store and find that a woman just my size (and how rare is that? It’s meant to be), who loves designer clothes in my favourite colours, just dropped off her scarcely-worn wardrobe yesterday? And I’m the lucky woman who saw it first? And so, with the thrill of the hunt in my pounding heart, I bring home the trophies. Which I really didn’t need.

I know a woman who shares my love of thrift stores (she will remain unnamed) who says, “I’m afraid at my eulogy, people will say, ‘She was a great thrift store shopper. Just take a look at the outfit she’s wearing today: a designer Liz Claiborne bought at Sally Ann for only $8.99.’” Ditto. And when my kids have to clean out my closets after I’m gone, they’ll be bringing  truckloads of stuff that they have no interest in back to the thrift stores whence they came. Talk about incongruity!

It took a long trip to grow new eyes. Now I can see a bit more clearly: my life needs a makeover, beginning with a purge of material things. It’s a small start, but it’s a start.

In keeping with this theme, I created the following wall hanging from a UFO languishing in the back of the closet. It was inspired by a small girl we saw down in the river valley where we were walking. We’d barely noticed the newly-arrived salmon in the creek. But her eyes were new to this wonder. She clapped and cheered and chattered and pointed and laughed and jumped up and down when she saw them. To look at the world with childlike wonder: that would be a giant step forward, wouldn’t it? What a world it would be!

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