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For the Things We Can't Erase

For the Things We Can't Erase

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Published by Thom Hunter
I wish -- though I don't believe in wishes -- that I could take a number two pencil and write down on a blue-lined piece of three-hole-punched notebook paper the moments of my life, label it "draft," study it a bit, and then turn the pencil around to the pink side -- the eraser -- and smudge away forever a line here and there . . . many lines, major smudges. Study it a bit more, swipe away with my hand the little black rubber crumbles, dirty from the mix of pink eraser and pencil lead, onto the floor . . . gone. Erased.
I wish -- though I don't believe in wishes -- that I could take a number two pencil and write down on a blue-lined piece of three-hole-punched notebook paper the moments of my life, label it "draft," study it a bit, and then turn the pencil around to the pink side -- the eraser -- and smudge away forever a line here and there . . . many lines, major smudges. Study it a bit more, swipe away with my hand the little black rubber crumbles, dirty from the mix of pink eraser and pencil lead, onto the floor . . . gone. Erased.

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Published by: Thom Hunter on Dec 03, 2010
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05/13/2015

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By Thom Hunter 
"Out, damn'd spot! out, I say!"-- Lady Macbeth, from Shakespeare's
Macbeth
I wish -- though I don't believe in wishes -- that I could take a number two pencil andwrite down on a blue-lined piece of three-hole-punched notebook paper themoments of my life, label it "draft," study it a bit, and then turn the pencil around tothe pink side -- the eraser -- and smudge away forever a line here and there . . .many lines, major smudges. Study it a bit more, swipe away with my hand the littleblack rubber crumbles, dirty from the mix of pink eraser and pencil lead, onto thefloor . . . gone. Erased.I would take a deep breath, sit back and sigh, copy the remains onto a fresh piece of paper, smooth it out and turn it in . . . to someone. The only copy. Not a draft, but anA-deserving masterpiece. In ink now, my finest handwriting, nothing to erase; noneed. I would crumple up the old messy draft, toss it away with no further thought,done, rise, walk.I wish . . . though I don't believe in wishes.The truth is, "free will" is more like a Sharpie than a number-two pencil. The use of itleaves permanent marks . . . and often results in a lot of crumbling-up and tossingand shredding instead of erasing. Out, damn'd spot. A part of me would much prefer the sweet smell of a new pink eraser over the black acrid smell of a inky blackmarker leaving trails and tracks that reflect the staggering stumbles of the exercise of my free will. Can't erase? Reach for the White-Out, which will leave a pasty crumbly
 
mess itself, no match for the thick black markings of me being me . . . showingthrough.What would I erase?Selfishness.Self-pity.Self-defensivenessSelf-gratification.Okay . . . well, maybe that's a little too much "self."How about . . .Deception?Fear?Doubt?Weakness?Self-reliance? Oops . . . there's that "self" thing again.What would
you 
erase?Maybe it would be better to just gently smudge out a moment in time, here and there.Problem is, some of them are so darkly there that the only way to get them out is torub all the way through the paper, leaving a hole that speaks as clearly as theoriginal deed itself. I've tried. Accepting the fact that I can't erase the deeds of others, I settled for the hope that I could erase my responses to them. Kind of likewhen you have a long word problem on a math quiz that leaves you stymied and youtry this and that . . . erase . . . try again . . . erase. The word problem is still there nomatter what you do to the answer.I wish -- though I don't believe in wishes -- that I could erase the moment that Ileaned over to the rolled-down window of a little beige Volkswagen on a foggycampus night in college and accepted a ride out of the drizzle. I would have erasedthe route to his house and the memory of having been there. Indelible ink.I would erase the first lie I told. No, not some silly little lie about taking a cookiebefore dinner, but the first lie I told myself: "this doesn't really matter. I'm not hurtinganyone anyway." When you fall for that lie and carry it around inside for a while andfind that you can fool yourself into believing it, you start trying it out on others to seeif they might fall for it too. Pretty soon, it's you, not a lie. Deception.
 
If I could not erase the lie, then maybe I could erase the pain that grew from it? Thewondering of others pondering the inconsistencies that characterized my character. Ibecame the word problem for which there were no answers and, once they hadunsuccessfully figured on it long enough to leave a hole in the page of my life, thehole remains.I would erase the times I tried to deflect the truth of my actions by pointing a finger someone else, even if . . . no, I'm not going to make any justifications now becausethat would only leave me with more I would want to erase. Like the time my sonconfronted me with knowledge he had that I had sinned sexually and I defendedmyself by pointing a finger at the
way 
he was confronting me with an anger that wastotally justified by my mis-behavior and his hurt, disappointment and disgust. As liesdo, it made things worse.After owning up to true accusations by erasing deception . . . I would then erase themoment I failed to act on a false accusation and let my shame and guilt from truethings allow false ones to go unanswered, adding layers of thickness and cubits of height to a wall that now seems impenetrable and unclimbable because of a lie, or,more politely put, a false accusation. I've learned now that anytime a falseaccusation stands, truth suffers and when truth suffers, we all do.I would erase the times I said "I will not fail again." I know the devil smiled at thatone, for though he could not have known for sure that I would fail again, my claims of strength must have redoubled his efforts. How he must love the little word "I." Howhe must rejoice (does the devil rejoice?) at the longer word "again," when it is part of a vow, no matter how intentionally intended. "I" would smudge out the word "I" andtry never to write it again with the word "will." God wills.I would erase the times I hid my unpleasantness behind my efforts to please. Thetimes I worked harder on looking good than on being good, on doing right instead of being right, on projecting an image instead of revealing a reality.I would erase the haughtiness with which I approached the earliest offers of help andI would scribble in a "yes . . . I need help," and write in clearest cursive, "thank you."But instead of an eraser, I have pages and pages of permanent words representingmy life ranging from deception to desperation, from putrid prose to pure poetry, frompainful falling to joyful soaring, from self . . . there I go again . . . reviling to self-restoring, from quiet hiding to loud revealing, from darkness and heaviness to lightand . . . lightness. All there, like a jumble with words out of place, a sentence for which no blackboard is large enough on which to diagram to anyone's specifications.(Like that very sentence.)
I've looked at life from both sides now From up and down and still somehow It's life's illusions I recall I really don't know life at all -- Joni Mitchell 

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Thom Hunter added this note
Carla, I agree that we need not look backwards, but we do need to use what we have learned to help us know better where to go. And, using our experiences to help others move forward is a good thing.
Thom Hunter added this note
Kenosis, You really put a lot of thought into that response . . . and I appreciate that. You are right on about guilt. God does not want us to live with guilt and shame, but in grace and forgiveness, always striving to conform ourselves to Christ. We struggle for reasons we may not understand, but God knows how to use them for His glory.
Bill AKA "Kenosis23" added this note
There is much to think about in your essay. At first I thought that which happens, if I could look at it from a larger view, needed to happen. And, it is true that certain times in my life, though they seemed disastrous at the time, were the necessary prelude to me becoming who I am at my best.
Thom Hunter added this note
Shyam . . . thank you very much for your comments. I'm glad it was meaningful to you.
Shyam Adrift added this note
Honest introspection, compulsive reflection & a real good read!
Thom Hunter liked this
Carl F Maulbeck liked this

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