Part of the charm of the Texas hill country is what we think makes for an attractive decoration. Our neighbors have this rusting old truck parked by their front gate. At the holidays they string it with twinkling lights, which you can see draped along the truck bed, up over the window, and down the front hood. Every time we pass, it makes me smile.
The truck is old and rusting, and likely not working, or the rancher would put it to work instead of using it for decoration. Still, something about it is worthy of display. It has attractive, graceful lines. The faded paint reflects the soft gold of the sunlight. The blue and rust colors weave across the surface giving the truck the patina of times past, rather than the disgrace of decrepitude.
The dignity of this old truck is boosted by its position of prominence by the front gate. If the rancher were dubious about whether featuring this vehicle was in good taste, he might have parked it behind the barn, where the family could enjoy it, but strangers wouldn’t look askance. Instead he put it right out front, and you can see for yourself how charming it is.
I wonder about the story of this truck, whether it delivered hay bales to sheep 70+ years ago or took children to school who are now senior citizens. Maybe it was the truck of a farrier, who went from ranch to ranch shoeing horses. Maybe its owner paid extra to get fancy whitewall tires or the cover for the truck bed.
One thing is for certain, the story of the truck is written in its body, in the dents and pings and rust. I think one reason I enjoy seeing this vehicle is it gives off the relaxed confidence of someone who embraces their story, rust and all.
A lot of socially impolite things happen when you are giving care to someone, things that you would not share if you were having tea with the Queen. You would not want to say that your wife is waking you up all night long because her dementia has scrambled night and day, and the reason you are so exhausted and incoherent is that you haven’t slept well in months. And furthermore the lack of sleep is probably a factor in your having a nasty cold that you can’t seem to shake, which is why Her Majesty must once again please pardon your use of a handkerchief.
There are a lot of places you can’t say these things, but it is vital that you find a way to say at least some of what is happening. The more of your whole story that you can convey, the less anxiety you have about others finding out that your dad leaves the house and rides the bus without his pants. Telling what is going on is a way of holding shame at bay, and that makes your life easier.
When you embrace your whole story, others will see the dents and pings and rust, but remember we all have dents. This week when you have the urge to put a false smiley face over something that is happening, remember this lovely truck and just tell how it is.