Posts Tagged With: symbolism

The Odd Ways We Say Goodbye

Everything drips with symbolism lately.

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Whether shiny, sparkly or pale the gold looked stunning next to green boughs.

I’ve undecorated the tree this afternoon. It’s time to let go. In fact, it’s past time. The needles are dropping faster, brownish tan slowly outshines the evergreen color. Sure, in a certain light, night-time,with just the small twinkle lights on, it looks vibrant and adds such ambience to the room. But in reality, a fire hazard stands in the living room.

When we first became acquainted, this tree sent its voluptuous pine scent wafting about the entire house. I thought it seemed happy here. But truly, it was simply on its last few weeks of a life spent outdoors, gazing at the stars, tucked in under the snow, basking in the sun, drenched in the rain. Then it found its life cut short and quickly waning. For a brief span of time it glowed and sparkled with beauty and light and life, its last bit of energy expended giving joy and lifting hearts.

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A well-lived life draws to a close.

But now, fully spent, its time has come to move on. Perhaps a few of her needles will become part of the mulch that nurtures next autumns flowers into a radiant bloom. Perhaps a chill night will be brightened and warmed by her last few embers. Perhaps in years to come a photo of a decorated tree, fallen over with the weight of too many ornaments and not enough balance, will lighten the heart of an aged woman. Or another photo of that same tree redecorated and standing proud and straight with a sweet smiling man at her side will bring cheer into a grandchild’s mind.

This sweet Christmas tree oversaw a bittersweet holiday.  It did its job with honor and aplomb. If there were medals awarded for Christmas tree service above and beyond the call of duty, this tree would have earned and worn an extras star of honor.

Now a small brass angel oversees the last of the boxing up of the gold and white bulbs, the untangling of the white lights from the branches. Tonight that tree will look up at the stars once again and dream.

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A few baubles waiting to get boxed up for another year.

Tonight, my living room will feel empty. I’ll walk in and feel lost knowing something important is missing. The empty spot will continue feeling empty regardless of the rearranging of furniture or placing of photos and lamps.

Now you see that I’m a silly, melodramatic woman, with far too much time for thinking and not enough to keep my mind and hands occupied.

I keep saying goodbye in such odd ways.

Maybe this year, this new set of twelve months, will be spent doing just that.

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Categories: Death, Holiday, Memory Lane, Relationships, Wondering | Tags: , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Symbols and Cymbals and Cymbalta

I apologize for the weird title of this post.

Sort of.

The Red Wheelbarrow

The Red Wheelbarrow (Photo credit: Abbeh)

I got thinking today about how everything, and I do mean nearly EVERY THING is symbolic for me. I blame it on High School English classes. “But, what does it meannnnnn,” they were always asking about every piece of literature we read. It couldn’t just be about the white chicken and red wheel barrow and the rain, it had to mean something significant. It couldn’t just be that the writer was lazy and didn’t want to bother with capitalization, even how every word appeared somehow had to “meannnnnnn” something.

It wasn’t until later, after learning the barest minimum about Freud, that I understood how important his statement really was:

“Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.”

Everything doesn’t have to be a symbol for something else.

But try to convince my once young and formerly pliable mind of that now.

No, my life seems to work just like an English class. Not only in what I read, but all the stuff I surround my life with. The things on the wall, the colors I choose for a pillow, even the seemingly random soda bottle on the mantle all has meaning for me. And not just the “Oh, great-aunt Matilda gave that to me” kind of meaning. I’m talking symbolism.

sym·bol·ism

noun
the practice of representing things by symbols, or of investing things with a symbolic meaning or character.
Imagine a life literallly, not just figuratively, filled with symbols and symbolism. That’s tricky, I know, but stay with me.

Now, if you were listening to this post you might actually hear the word symbol and think this word: cymbal. These are not the same. Obviously to me, now, they aren’t. I can take the context of a word, it’s surroundings and topic and make sense of the difference between symbol and cymbal.

But as a kid there were so many words that sounded almost the same or exactly the same that some of the things I thought were lyrics to songs made no sense whatsoever.

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Holidays are particularly heavy with symbolic meanings as well as confusing sounding words.

For example, as a kid I often sang this Christmas tune: “Up on the housetop reindeer pause, out jumps good old Santa Clause…” But what I heard was more like this: “Ug, on the how stop, rain dear paws, out jumps good, O Santa Claws.”

When you’re four or five years old and that’s what you think you’re hearing Christmas becomes a confusing mess.

Or there’s this familiar first verse of Jingle Bells.

“Dash he threw the snow, on a one ore soaping slay, ore the fields we go, laughing all the way.” What the heck is a soaping slay?

How does that make any sense to anyone? But a little kid, with very little contextual understanding, words are so wierd!! But I didn’t even know enough to ask what it all meant. I figured, maybe, that it wasn’t supposed to make sense. I mean, the whole red suited guy squishing down a chimney seemed pretty nonsensical.

But I digress.

I was talking about symbols and cymbals.

Couldn’t cymbals be symbolic? Sure they could. But could cymbal playing really be cymbalic playing? I don’t know probably not.

The point is I was pushed quite naturally by such nonsense in the direction of figuring out words, and meanings in, under, around and beyond words.

Old House

Old House (Photo credit: WaywardShinobi)

Words drip with meaning. Words bend under the weight of history, like an old house with a wing added in one decade and a room tacked on in another, and then another room or two, here and there over the years, and finally a garage cobbled together a little bit after that. Add in all that attic space and crawl space. Until what you have is this word with hundreds and hundreds of years of meaning in every pore of its few letters.

So much so, that when I hear an advertisement for some drug called Cymbalta my brain pictures a percussion player with flat brass discs waiting for the director to signal for the crashing loud bash of metal on metal.

Cymbals, Chinese New Year in front of House of...

Cymbals, Chinese New Year in front of House of Hong, International District, Seattle, Washington. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

But that makes no sense for an antidepressant, except in a mean-spirited I’m gonna shove you outta your bed of depression by sheer loudness kind of way.

I’ve tried a few antidepressants in my day, so don’t go thinking I’m being insensitive here. I wish one of the meds I tried over the years had that effect on me. “Alright, already, Ma, I’m awake, I’m up, I’m good to go! Stop with the Cymbalta playing!”

So then I think symbolism and I worry about what’s realllllllly in that medication, what does it meannnnnnn? And I feel a little nervous.

Words very seldom serve as just words.

And that’s scary.

“You say tomato, I say tom-AH-to.”

You know Amelia Bedelia? Yeah. Her. That book.

That one children’s book says so much better anything I’ve just spent nearly seven hundred words trying to explain. And it has pictures. Funny pictures.

Sigh.

“What does it all meannnnnnn?”

Maybe I just need some medication or an orchestra concert or a sign.

Or sleep.

Categories: Books, Humor, Writing | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

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