Saturday, March 23, 2013

Messages Under the Desk

In high school, an old boyfriend of mine used to tape notes to the bottom side of my desk for me to find in sixth-hour Physics class. I loved it. It was the pinnacle of my day, and because of it, I developed an ambrosial affinity for secret messages... and somehow, miraculously, managed to pass Physics.

I recently went for a nature drive up by this mountain lake. Although it was frozen over, the weather was fine, and brought out more visitors than I would have expected. Wishing to be alone, I wandered down a path cordoned off to vehicles.

Some small way down the path, I came across a camping area, complete with picnic tables, restrooms and a dumpster. I also encountered a sleeping bag — one that appeared to have been hastily abandoned. Mushroom stubs littered the area, and upon closer examination, it appeared they had been picked from the roots of a tree. Someone had to have been pretty desperate to scavenge for those.

In my car, I always keep a 72 hour kit. It's pretty bare bones, but I figured even a few small items would be an improvement over those awful mushrooms. As I booked it back up the hill, the wind grew brisk. My ears began to ache from the cold and many of the fair-weather sightseers were driven away. I dug through my trunk and located the kit and found four ancient granola bars, an eighteen-hour candle, a small box of matches, some cough drops and a pair of earplugs... just in case the sleeping bag's owner also suffered from earaches.

I drew a heart on a piece of cardboard and stuffed all of the contents into the baggie with the granola bars and made my way back down the hill, where I carefully folded the package into the sleeping bag. I wished I had better to give.

A few days later, I decided to go back and check on things. This time I toted a lunch bag with sandwiches aplenty — plus a bit more; but I could see from a distance that the sleeping bag was gone. My heart kind of sank for a minute until I spotted something else: the baggie.

I raced closer to make sure. It sat in the same exact spot as I had left it — minus the sleeping bag. A hole had been ripped in the bottom and the granola bars and ear plugs were gone. The candle had also been used, but only just. It had probably been too windy to stay lit. But the most important thing left behind was the heart I had drawn. It seemed to have been placed just so, as if to serve as a reminder — a beacon of sorts — in returning what wasn't needed to the rightful owner.

An occlusion formed in my throat. It felt like a message under the desk.

For many years now, I have lived with a broken heart — the kind that doesn't mend. I might always be alone, but I'm grateful for the lessons that have taught me to empathize with those of an isolated status. I'm also grateful for the lessons that have taught me to find companionship and solace in a remnant of a note I once wrote for someone else.

I may or may not have helped someone, who may or may not have found value in it, and may or may not have left it behind for me on purpose... but I like to think they did, and I find joy in believing so. That's the trick of life: choosing joy.

There are many notes under the table for all of us if we will but take the time to see them. It could be a quick text from a friend or a "thank you" from the grocery store clerk, or it could be as big as a peace-offering from a loved one. Don't let them pass you by. Heed the call. Find the messages. Be generous with your optimism. And always, always find the good in others.

All Best Until Next Time,

Spreading Joy Writing Books

1 comment:

  1. May your broken heart be mended. I wonder if there is potential in mending it with a friendship rather than a romance. You're not alone, Eliott, and your generous optimism shines like a beacon light.


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