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52 Ways to Shift Your Focus: Live With Some Mystery

Shift #50: Live With Some Mystery

Two weeks ago, I wrote about my mom’s WearEver chili pot (Shift #48: Remembering Connections) and a friend of mine, who read that post, sent me a couple of emails about it the following day. The emails contained links to sites that had information about how old that WearEver pot is. She wanted me to have a way to find out the exact age of the pot I inherited. She was being thoughtful.

My own reaction to the emails surprised me. I had an immediate gut-level response that consisted of a deafening inner NO. No, I did not want to know the exact age of that pot. My admission that I did not know exactly how old it was had not been a cry for assistance. It was simply an acknowledgement that I did not know all there was to know about this rounded, worn pot that had found a home in my own kitchen. What I thought I knew about it was from its history within the confines of my own life. That it was around before I was born is a tangential piece of the story and not what I love about it.

If I knew the exact age of that pot, knew other history from the time before I existed, it might change the story I carry in my head. And that isn’t what I want. I want the fuzzy memories, the mystery of something that has the illusion of always having been there, the emotional tug that matches what the pot held for me as a child and what it continues to hold for me now.

As I mulled that over, I thought about other objects that have a story I’ve assigned to them and whether the incomplete nature of those stories matters. For any number of small things that are passed down because the object itself is beloved for no reason other than the memory attached to it, a little mystery can be a lovely thing. The soft edges of a remembered meal made in a pot that seems to predate everything else does not need to be exact to do its job of acting as a touchstone.

And that’s what that WearEver pot is. A touchstone. A piece of my mom that came to me. An item that allows me to wonder about things in a lovely way. A tool that allows me to continue to spin stories and pass them on.

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