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Sunday, April 8, 2012

Bruce's Lecture

Joe lies still in his bed, listening intently for the sound of prancing hooves. But all he hears is the predictable train whistle that passes each morning at three, the ticking of the grandfather clock in the entryway, and the breathing of his brother sleeping in the bunk above. Joe hears no clanking or chatter from the rooftop.

Joe's prayers for his shiny new toolbox are born out of his Saturday and Sunday afternoons (Sunday mornings are reserved fro church services), which are spent fixing the machinery that runs the farm. Often his grandfather and uncle come down to lend a hand. Joe loves the large and spacious garage. He finds comfort in the familiar, greasy oil stains on the flattened cardboard boxes strategically placed under the cars to catch the inevitable leaks.

As he loves when the afternoon light reflects off the lids of jars meticulously nailed to the wooden beams. Lined upon in military precision, the jars hold a fascinating variety of nails and other items. But the most prized possessions of all are the worn, red metal toolboxes sitting atop their tall stands. Smeared with the greasy fingerprints and draped with filthy work towels, each box is a treasure chest to Joe.

He has spent many house sitting on the propane tanks, watching intently as his father and brothers twist, pull, crank, and prod various types of machinery, Joe does not dare join the others because the few times he did, unable to contain his curiosity, his father's hickory switch strategically slapped his backside.

Having his own toolbox is Joe's passport to this much coveted world... a world important not because of the mysteries it holds, but because of the emotional connection it promises.

When a child's instinctual needs for love, physical care, and coaching go unmet, the memory of that deprivation becomes imprinted on his psyche. Because the child believes it is because of his own inadequacy that his needs are not being fulfilled, his personality and his life come to be shamed based. All trauma gets its power from this original shaming.

As the morning light filters in and the first rooster's crow is heard, Joe flies out of bed and races into the living room. The magic has happened once more. Santa has arrived and, for this moment in time, all is right with the world. Seeing the sparkling ribbons and bows so neatly tied, Joe can hardly stand his excitement. Joe plops himself among the packages, shaking each one and reading the each name tag for possible clues. He assesses the packages... one heavy, one light, one long, one short. Nothing seems to fit until spies a large package in the back, camouflaged by a drooping tree branch. It's heavy, it has his name on it, and, when he shakes it, it rattles, could this be his coveted toolbox? A few more shakes, and he is sure this is his prized possession.

(To be continued.)