During the past week I’ve managed to break two objects that I have had for a long time.
In themselves they weren’t especially valuable, but I was upset that I broke them as they had safely accompanied me through various house moves and always had their own place in my home. They each represented different memories.
The first item was a glass ‘coffee press’ coffee maker. I am not a great caffeine drinker but the coffee maker had seen plenty of dinner party service over the years. The day I broke it, I fancied some real coffee, but as I took the jug from the cupboard, it slipped out of my hand and the glass shattered on the tiled kitchen floor. Fortunately, the Bodum Bistro coffee press is an iconic design, and I was pleased that later on that day I was able to buy a similar replacement, and even better, the price was reduced in the sale. The filter is a little more sophisticated, but otherwise the design remains the same.
I’m sure that a large part of my sadness at the demise of the coffee maker relates to the fact that my late mum had one and it was a permanent fixture on her kitchen worktop. Hers was a small capacity version, and she invariably had some black coffee on tap, “The caffeine perks me up, dear”, she used to say.
The second mishap was entirely my own fault. Many years ago on a visit to Copenhagen, I bought a small, round, glass tea light holder. It was bang on trend at the time, being made from thick glass in an irregular pattern that was meant to resemble a snowball. Indeed it looked suitably ice-like and reflected the light very well when it held a lit candle.
This was my ‘go to’ holder for lighting candles, sometimes to lift a dark corner or scent a room, but mostly I viewed it as my ‘in memoriam’ votive candle holder, often placing it in front of a photo of James or having a candle lit in remembrance on significant dates.
So … on the day it happened, I intended to change the spent tea light for a new one, but a little wax had melted onto the glass at the bottom of the holder. I thought, “I know, I will run some hot water over it”. This was in an attempt to soften the wax and make the candle easier to remove. But I realised this wasn’t my greatest idea when I heard a distinct popping sound and saw that the glass had cracked all the way round. I guess that the hot water being directed onto the cold glass caused it to expand too quickly and it couldn’t withstand the pressure.
I have other tea light holders; in particular I often light one that has a butterfly design. It was not so much the loss of the Danish holder that upset me as the significance of what it represented over the years.
Inadvertently destroying two objects from the same era in the space of a week felt quite strange and I set out to find a message …
My emotional response was disproportionate to the monetary value of the items, but not to my sentimental attachment to them.
More positively, I learnt that mere items can generally be replaced.
Memories remain whether or not the associated items still exist.
Losing items relating to a time that is now in the past allows opportunities to move forward and embrace something different for the future.
I now have a chance to find a new favourite tea light holder without displacing the old one.
Creating new memories is as important as holding old ones. The trick is to let go what is not necessary any more and replace it with something different, which may turn out to be even better than the original.
How often I have said, “I wish that hadn’t happened …” weighed down by ‘stuff’ I am carrying with me from the past. Of course, when it comes to major losses and traumas, these cannot be simply discarded like the broken coffee maker and candle holder, but their ongoing effect and presence can be managed in a healthy, forward looking way. Simplistically, looking forward rather than backward is a learned skill and it is definitely easier said than done.
Someone said to me recently, “Throughout your life you gather stuff that clings to you. If you could see it you would look like a snowball getting larger and larger. What you need to do is to control your roll down the hill”. I like the imagery of this and also favour the thought of brushing off some of that snow so it is not so heavy and cumbersome.
My new coffee maker saw good use over Christmas and I am resolved to try different coffees to ensure it is utilised more regularly.
And I am looking forward to finding a tea light holder that reflects who I am now, rather than who I was when I bought the old one.