Tuesday, October 16, 2012


We’re having a day that's a flashback to summer.

It's mild and sunny with a light breeze ruffling the remnant foliage.

One-day warm-ups, such as come amid prevailing cooler conditions, are very helpful. They give little spaces of time here and there to get at outdoor jobs.

It’s the perfect day for yard work. The lawn was mulched and deck furniture was stowed away. It’s that much to the good already as we seize the day.

It’s also a chance for one last shot in the sun. If leisure is on your to-do list this is the day for it.

Just as today has popped off the summer calendar so too have flashbacks of another kind been showing up since last week’s story (“Reboot,” previous posting).

In that article I told about my closet cleanout. The gist of it is my separates were evaluated for more effective usage. 

Some pieces were weeded out and in general a commitment was made to stay on the ball with the closet as a whole.

Almost as soon as the story was online I started analyzing the motivation behind the cleanup. What got me to do this – now?

I mean – we all clean our closets after all. They’re often overhauled at the change of seasons and we’re at the biggest seasonal changeover of all.

Fall is when we transition into wardrobes that require more layers of clothing. It’s natural to get in there and get reacquainted with what we have.

So I knew the cleanout was going to happen sometime, as it did. But the feeling was that there was a stronger push behind it. 

The images – call them flashbacks – reminded me this was indeed the case.

The first flashback is of a cool spell this past summer. It was late summer, mid or possibly late August.  

It was a few days with temperatures below what had been running the norm. Accustomed to the heat this whispered autumnal to me.

Daylight comes later in late summer. You wait for the sun to strengthen. I was looking for something from the closet appropriate for the cool house until the day warmed up.

Standing at the closet with doors wide open I couldn’t find a single thing to wear. I might as well have been a deer in the headlights of a car.

I was caught in an appalling lack of reaction. After weeks of summertime attire the switch to anything else seemed out of my decision-making powers.

Long sleeves didn't feel right nor did pants. The first wearing and pairing of the next season's clothes can feel strange. You're unaccustomed to them.

No little voice from out of that assemblage piped up. If  “wear me, wear me!” had come to my ears I’d have appreciatively obliged.

My brain surveyed the closet and held silent. It had nothing to offer. I didn’t have a clue what to put on.

It’s like the knack of dressing had deserted me. Over the summer I’d forgotten how to prep for anything but ninety degrees.

My mistake was to mention this dilemma of wardrobe choice to Al.

“It’s not set up to be complicated,” he retorted, never realizing the injury to my ego at the imputed rebuff that it’s not rocket science to, for goodness sakes, pick out something to wear.

His statement might once have been construed as a direct aim at my abilities to think in place. As with many comments with a sting I've learned, with the passage of time, they often offer a grain of truth to chew on.

If you open to the frank talk and allow, as it were, the salt to rub into the wound, you can take these remarks and turn them around as bonus advice however you wish to use it.

A second flashback involved a conversation with a friend. The visit happened a couple weeks before school workshops began.

So we’re talking mid August, which about coincides with my closet freezeup.

Perhaps it was the double reinforcement of self-confessed clothing failures (for my friend had her own tale of woe) that lent strength to the need to stand inside my closet anew.

She said the hardest thing about going back to school is deciding what to wear each morning.

Students, paperwork, overcrowded schedules, meetings with parents – while not a piece of cake, after all these years she’s hit her stride in each of those areas.

But personal presentation skills! In other words, the image in the mirror before she sets off to school each morning! Each year comes with new styles to weave into her basic career look.

It does seem to get harder as we get older, and our associates get younger, with their fresh complexions and way of getting everything pulled together just so. We agreed on this.

Try to look effortlessly dressed by 6:30 AM, maximum latest moment for getting out the door, she groaned.

Bring into the classroom not only the authority which proper dressing provides, but dress well, comfortably and within budget. This is the part of her career that can bring her to back-to-school despair.

Conversation with another friend forms a third flashback. Living well, she observed to me, has a great deal to do with how much relates relevantly.

Her words struck me as very wise, and even more so because they sort of just dropped from her.

We were enjoying the fall colors and stopped for a bite to eat. We were at one of those lovely out of the way places you find on the color road and everything of the moment is pure enjoyment.

There is relevance all about you if you know how to look. What she says is right on.

It’s in front of you if you can see to connect the dots from A to Z. Well heck, sometimes the line needs to be  drawn from only A to B. It’s all relevant.

When you expect to note relevance these things are yours to accept. 

You stick out your hand, say thank you very much and say yes to the opportunities. Relevance makes life wonderful in all its textures, flavors and truths.

I wasn’t thinking of her words in conjunction with my closet but they wound their way into me to have that effect.

It’s up to me to put relevance into my separates. The relevance is already in each piece of apparel. My role is to relate its worth as it stands on its own and as a match with other pieces.

Somehow these recent scenes came together in one clarion call for action. Clean the closet couldn’t have been shouted any louder than if a cheerleader with a megaphone showed up just then.

I was nudged through a sequence of separate but connected events to this very cleaning day. Each was a link, one to the next, to action taken.

As the flashbacks take a curtsey for their help it occurs to me it can be beneficial to use this reverse scene technique to look at ourselves.

As we finish a next assignment or project let’s consider – not forward, as is frequently recommended upon completion of a consuming piece of work – but backward.

Review the steps involved in getting there. Each entails a choice and a response. Each has been a decision. Each leads to something next. It gets you, in the end, to the end.

You maybe wind up at a distance from the original or intended goal. It may be a reconstruction of the goal entirely.

Flashbacks give us clarity on how we perform the steps that get us to achievements.

It can also make us realize this: we think we accomplish singlehandedly but, more often than not, our completed actions stem from a whole lot of other influences.

The flashbacks related to the closet clean have been helpful. They’ve even propelled me to a flash forward moment.

You see, I thought the clothes in their tidy piles or tucked in drawers, or as they march in order on the hangers, belong to us  We’re the owners.

In truth they own us. They own us if we don’t have a handle on them and don’t utilize them and don’t take care of them.

Otherwise they’re a pretty accumulation and that can be fine.  Unless, like me, you think we should wear better with age than that.

Ro Giencke – October 16, 2012

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