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On the Coast Magazine

The Rusty Old Gate

11/01/2016 11:00PM ● Published by Crystal Tingle

Other than my family, there are three things that bring me so much stinkin’ joy I can hardly stand it! The sheer giddiness and excitement I feel when I am around or participating in any of these is just crazy!  The first is sweating! Yep. Doing anything active, especially outdoors…  working out, running, playing tennis, extreme races, snow skiing, boxing…you name it! I am pretty much up for it. The second is nutrition and studying how it could and should heal our bodies. And the last is, well…OLD STUFF…architectural pieces.  

I know, I know. I threw you off with that last one, but hang on. I love buying them for my home or even just looking at them and touching their rough surfaces. Weird, huh? It’s because when I feel them, they almost become a part of me…a reality of something unknown but loved. There is so much beauty in these pieces and yet they often get overlooked and discarded as junk.  But to me, the more weathered the paint and rusted the iron, the better! Just gorgeous!  Many attempt to duplicate these old artifacts using new materials, but each piece falls just a little short. Why? I am really not sure, other than the fact that I think it’s a matter of the “if walls could talk” mystery of it all.  New pieces made to look old just don’t carry the same patina, and they certainly don’t seem to be able to carry the same weight of life.  

Here’s the thing: can you imagine the story behind each of these weathered pieces?  What they have seen. What they have heard. What they have literally “weathered.” What stories of joy and sadness, heartbreak and elation must be covered up in so many layers of chipped paint and rusted iron gates. Who went through those gates? Did they ever come back? But rarely are the stories told. So much is left to our imagination. We will never know.  And these pieces will rarely tell. It’s simply left up to us to wonder and appreciate their beauty, just as they are. 

What if we could see people in the same way, rust and all? Wouldn’t it be beautiful if we could transfer that same value and appreciation of old stuff to one another’s “history” as they cross our paths? And this has nothing to with the physical age of a person, despite many references to years. This imagery is simply to serve as a reminder to all of us …that there are indeed storms of life that arise and beat us down… at any age. Some rebuild fast. Others do not. There are elements we are exposed to that dull or rust our once-glossy finish and chip away at our very being, with no respecter of person. Life happens…layers are added to who we once were. It can make us sad or rude, broken or angry and sometimes flat-out intolerant! It can fortify us. Sometimes it makes us retreat and want to shut the gate forever. 

Without bringing politics into this, I wonder how many national issues we face today could be solved in an instant if we would value what seems to be worthless, even when people don’t act and respond as we think they should. Do we seek to understand? Do we try to hear the walls talk? Are we willing to walk through the rusty gate to hear? Maybe they aren’t the problem. Maybe they simply chipped off a bit of our own rust we didn’t realize was there. 

I have written articles where I challenged my readers to see others beneath the initial layers of paint on the surface, although not said in quite the same way.  I am so passionate about this because I believe it holds the answers that unlock so many of life’s issues today. What if we just were kind, regardless of what was said or done to us? What if we didn’t take everything so personally? Kindness and compassion which leads to caring is an immeasurably beautiful way to value one another, regardless of the color of our skin, our economic status or even how we act. 

What if we just slowed down in those moments to look deeper … just stopped… and really listened.  What story would we hear? What would those tall, stained walls say? We might even see through those foggy windows to their heart, maybe understand where they are coming from. It might sound pretty familiar and remind us of our own stains! We might more easily find and utter that timely word of kindness, led by compassion to bring healing to their heart as well as our own. If walls could talk…if old shutters would open…if chipping picture frames could tell a story…I think the familiarity of what sounds like LIFE would be what we hear.  It’s in all these stories we might begin to appreciate the beauty in the “old stuff” … beneath all of the cracks, including our own. 









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