While going through my notebooks and files, I came across two interesting folders: one red, one the usual “manila folder.” I knew what they were; I just had not seen them for a while. The red tab, “Placement Programs,” in manuscript-print (all CAPS). The other had a somewhat beat-up, dog-eared tab: “Certification Materials,” handwritten by me in my best cursive.
If you have ever sat down in front of your dresser that has a bottom drawer filled with junk, stuff, dead-desiccated prom flowers, old love letters, maybe a vibrator or two, greeting-cards-saved-forever, warranty papers for radios and bicycles and CD players long gone, and so much else, it might be difficult to slide the drawer back in. Memories flood out from the items as you look to find something.
Why did you go in there in the first place? Isn’t this A Sacred Place of Collection? Does not every item belong? Have you tried to delete or discard something from within–or something you took out to look at, for no reason, then put back into the right place? How about those empty watch boxes? Stones and rocks, collected when you were in the Mojave Desert? (I still have wrapped in the most-delicate “Saran Wrap” the two newly-marrieds from the top of my/our wedding cake. Also, a pair of baby shoes, not mine. A signed baseball, not mine. An assortment of padlocks, combination locks, keys to nowhere, day-minders/day-timers back to 1973. A handgun lock. And more.)
Those two folders I found are like my bottom drawer: A Sacred Place of Collection: papers, letters, and copies of important information about me. Letters of application I once sent. Transcripts from high school and college (even a sealed envelope “Issued to Student” stamped on the seal of one envelope), proof that I completed the necessaries.
My certificates and licenses, proof, to teach, to administer, to sell insurance. Some certificates for outstanding service, for being a committee chair, or for appreciation.
Oh, my! What have I done? I have opened a “bottom drawer.” I spent hours going through the two folders: the items contained defined what I was, or prove what I still am capable of (degree to teach). Each item tells/told where I was at a time in my life, a date and a place of my existence, in addition to what I have accomplished.
These folders, with the classes I took in the grades and in college, open up my life: “Look what he did?” The transcripts show Latin, Greek, German, science, mathematics, philosophy, history, letters and literature, religion, physical education, geography, music, biology, Bible studies, economics, and even some art. Proof of my education.
Something more than what is on the papers I liken to the spirits that linger, hang around those items in the bottom drawer. Something sacred there. Something special, or it wouldn’t still be there, right?
So, I put the papers back into their rightful folders, knowing that some had to be shredded. They were old, outdated, non-useful, and unusable. Someday, I told myself; not now. Then I sigh, look at my folders, and carefully replace them in the file cabinet drawer–deleting nothing.
“Ah, me.” Latin and Greek–and philosophy? Really? Omne agens agit propter finem. Nemo dat quod non habet. But really, Qui nimis probat nihil probat.
Gallia est omnis divisa in partes tres,…
[Here are a few words of explanation: “Everyone does something for a reason.” “No one”–not “Nemo,” the clown fish–“gives what one hasn’t got.” And this last one I love–really: “She/he who proves too much, proves nothing.”]
© James F. O’Neil 2013