Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. The Tattered Black Shawl

 

As we go through life, there are some items that travel with us, and we can’t imagine living without them. Our history is molded into them. They’ve seen our struggles and our joys. In some cases, they’ve been stepped on, dumped on, misplaced, borrowed, or worn out. For me, my tattered black shawl is that precious item that I can’t imagine being without.

I first bought this shawl 20 years ago when I was in Pokhara, Nepal, a dusty town with barely paved streets and tiny shops. I’d made up my mind that I needed a black shawl, so I was on a quest to buy one. Most garments that I saw were colorful and bright. But I needed black. I finally found this shawl. It was surprisingly well-made; now that I think about it, I don’t know for sure if it was made in Nepal or China. But it was soft and warm and I packed it up with my other Pokhara purchases.

Why is this shawl so special to me? I bought it mainly to keep me warm at intensive retreats. It was especially cool at 4:30 a.m.; if it was cold enough, I put it over my head as I sat on the floor and created a warm tent of comfort. The shawl also was a light, warm blanket when I took naps during rest periods in between the meditation sessions that added up to nine hours per day. I’d stretch out on my sleeping bag, pull the shawl over the length of my body, head to toe, and curled up in a soft cloud of sleep.

So my shawl and I had challenging times together, particularly when I ended up in a power struggle with my Zen teacher. She was determined to break through my “arrogance,” and I was determined to maintain my inner strength. We finally reached a point where she decided that she would need to humiliate me in front of my friends in the Zen community to set me straight. Before she could, I ended the relationship and left.

I took my shawl with me.

I discovered that there were many more uses for my shawl, and it has maintained its simple beauty and integrity (if you don’t count the fringe, which is questionable). We hug each other on cold airplanes, in the draft of an air-conditioned restaurant, at friends’ homes who think that 68 degrees in the daytime is warm enough for civilized people. I wear it on walks, at the seder table, warm my feet with it. It rests on my shoulders when I sit in my favorite chair. It’s one of the few wool items I can wear anymore since I’ve become sensitive to wool. It even comes in handy when I’ve dressed warmly and someone else is cold: my hospice patient sometimes gets a chill and I put the shawl over her shoulders.

Since I first bought the tattered shawl, I’ve knitted a number of new ones. They are colorful, unique, soft, and attractive. But often I make an excuse to go into my closet and pull out my black tattered shawl.

You might wonder if the shawl holds memories of a difficult time in my life. In some ways it does, but I mainly choose to remember a time when I trusted my own wisdom, stood up for myself, and moved on to a better, more meaningful future.

The tattered shawl and I are still friends and I hope to have her around for a long time.

Do you have items that are just too precious to part with? Things for which you’ve bought or made replacements, but can’t quite give up the original?

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  1. Arahant Member

    Susan Quinn: at friends’ homes who think that 68 degrees in the daytime is warm enough for civilized people.

    🙄😜

    In the winter, certainly. In the summer, never have the air set below 78.

    • #1
    • January 23, 2020, at 11:44 AM PST
    • 6 likes
  2. Jeff Giambrone Coolidge

    This jacket is one of my most treasured possessions – the lining is shot, the buttons are all loose and ready to fall off, the zipper barely works – but I love it because my dad bought it for me. My dad and I were very different people – he was an outgoing bank vice-president, and I was an introverted college kid studying to be an historian. I know my dad would have loved it if I had studied business or finance in college, but that just wasn’t what I was called to do, and my dad respected that. One day back in the late 1980’s we were at the local mall and my dad spotted this jacket – knowing that I loved all things military related, he bought it for me, and I have been wearing it ever since. The jacket may be well-worn, but she still has a lot of life left in her, and I am planning a major overhaul in the near future – new lining, re-sew the buttons, the works. My dad passed away in 2006, but every time I see this jacket, I think of him and it makes me happy.

     

    • #2
    • January 23, 2020, at 2:23 PM PST
    • 15 likes
  3. WillowSpring Member
    WillowSpringJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    My wife (to be) and I got a picnic blanket 54 years ago when we were dating. I am now sleeping under it every night on the sofa downstairs so I can keep our old deerhound company – she is afraid/unable now to go up and down the stairs. 

    I think about its history every night when I pull it up. I also have a quilt that my wife quilted on the top. Lots of memories.

    My wife and I will probably switch roles next week.

    • #3
    • January 23, 2020, at 2:50 PM PST
    • 8 likes
  4. Percival Thatcher
    PercivalJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Jeff Giambrone (View Comment):

    This jacket is one of my most treasured possessions – the lining is shot, the buttons are all loose and ready to fall off, the zipper barely works – but I love it because my dad bought it for me. My dad and I were very different people – he was an outgoing bank vice-president, and I was an introverted college kid studying to be an historian. I know my dad would have loved it if I had studied business or finance in college, but that just wasn’t what I was called to do, and my dad respected that. One day back in the late 1980’s we were at the local mall and my dad spotted this jacket – knowing that I loved all things military related, he bought it for me, and I have been wearing it ever since. The jacket may be well-worn, but she still has a lot of life left in her, and I am planning a major overhaul in the near future – new lining, re-sew the buttons, the works. My dad passed away in 2006, but every time I see this jacket, I think of him and it makes me happy.

     

    Does it have a blood chit on the back? 

    That would be cool.

    • #4
    • January 23, 2020, at 3:22 PM PST
    • 1 like
  5. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn

    Jeff Giambrone (View Comment):
    This jacket is one of my most treasured possessions – the lining is shot, the buttons are all loose and ready to fall off, the zipper barely works – but I love it because my dad bought it for me.

    @jeffgiambrone, what a sweet story. I can just imagine how soft that leather is with those many years of love and wear. Don’t “fix” it too much–it’s so very special just as it is. Thanks.

    • #5
    • January 23, 2020, at 3:52 PM PST
    • 4 likes
  6. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn

    WillowSpring (View Comment):
    My wife (to be) and I got a picnic blanket 54 years ago when we were dating. I am now sleeping under it every night on the sofa downstairs so I can keep our old deerhound company – she is afraid/unable now to go up and down the stairs. 

    @willowspring, you bring tears to my eyes. What a treasure you are–you and your wife. I know that kind of attachment to a dog–you want them to feel safe and not alone. Bless you.

     

    • #6
    • January 23, 2020, at 3:54 PM PST
    • 5 likes
  7. Jeff Giambrone Coolidge

    Percival (View Comment):

    Jeff Giambrone (View Comment):

    This jacket is one of my most treasured possessions – the lining is shot, the buttons are all loose and ready to fall off, the zipper barely works – but I love it because my dad bought it for me. My dad and I were very different people – he was an outgoing bank vice-president, and I was an introverted college kid studying to be an historian. I know my dad would have loved it if I had studied business or finance in college, but that just wasn’t what I was called to do, and my dad respected that. One day back in the late 1980’s we were at the local mall and my dad spotted this jacket – knowing that I loved all things military related, he bought it for me, and I have been wearing it ever since. The jacket may be well-worn, but she still has a lot of life left in her, and I am planning a major overhaul in the near future – new lining, re-sew the buttons, the works. My dad passed away in 2006, but every time I see this jacket, I think of him and it makes me happy.

     

    Does it have a blood chit on the back?

    That would be cool.

    It does:

    • #7
    • January 23, 2020, at 7:08 PM PST
    • 4 likes
  8. EJHill Podcaster
    EJHillJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Alright. When I read the headline I was expecting a lot more.

    A lot more.

    • #8
    • January 23, 2020, at 9:19 PM PST
    • 9 likes
  9. Arahant Member

    EJHill (View Comment):

    Alright. When I read the headline I was expecting a lot more.

    A lot more.

    It could also be the name of a pub or a folk song, meaning a real, collected folk song that developed over hundreds of years.

    • #9
    • January 23, 2020, at 9:21 PM PST
    • 4 likes
  10. JosePluma Thatcher

    EJHill (View Comment):

    Alright. When I read the headline I was expecting a lot more.

    A lot more.

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Well, @susanquinn, you know what you need to do now.

     

     

     

     

    • #10
    • January 23, 2020, at 10:03 PM PST
    • 4 likes
  11. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn

    EJHill (View Comment):

    Alright. When I read the headline I was expecting a lot more.

    A lot more.

    I love it!! My very own @ejhill cover! Woo-hoo!!

    In all fairness, I didn’t call it “The Mystery of the Tattered Black Shawl.” Thanks, EJ!

    • #11
    • January 24, 2020, at 5:57 AM PST
    • 2 likes
  12. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn

    JosePluma (View Comment):

    EJHill (View Comment):

    Alright. When I read the headline I was expecting a lot more.

    A lot more.

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Well, @susanquinn, you know what you need to do now.

     

     

     

     

    Uh-oh! Any suggestions for plots, @josepluma?

    • #12
    • January 24, 2020, at 5:58 AM PST
    • 2 likes
  13. Arahant Member

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):
    Any suggestions for plots…

    Well, first a body needs to be discovered. Perhaps the body is wrapped in a tattered black shawl. Possibly it comes in later. But if the body is wrapped in it, it’s the only clue to who the murder victim is, who the killer is, or both.

    Remember, even in something labeled a murder mystery, the murderer doesn’t have to be unknown, it’s the journey of how the murderer is brought to justice that is important. (Says the guy who has a murder mystery on the back burner where the protagonist is killed in the middle of the book.)

    • #13
    • January 24, 2020, at 7:42 AM PST
    • 5 likes
  14. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn

    Arahant (View Comment):

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):
    Any suggestions for plots…

    Well, first a body needs to be discovered. Perhaps the body is wrapped in a tattered black shawl. Possibly it comes in later. But if the body is wrapped in it, it’s the only clue to who the murder victim is, who the killer is, or both.

    Remember, even in something labeled a murder mystery, the murderer doesn’t have to be unknown, it’s the journey of how the murderer is brought to justice that is important. (Says the guy who has a murder mystery on the back burner where the protagonist is killed in the middle of the book.)

    Gee, if you didn’t have something already brewing, I’d ask if you’d like to write it! I’m a little intimidated about writing a short story with guidance from the master. Once I get past my nervousness about it, I’ll mull over how the story goes . . . @ejhill has given me permission to use his cover illustration!

    • #14
    • January 24, 2020, at 11:14 AM PST
    • 3 likes
  15. Arahant Member

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):
    Once I get past my nervousness about it, I’ll mull over how the story goes

    I’ll be happy to help.

    • #15
    • January 24, 2020, at 11:17 AM PST
    • 2 likes
  16. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn

    Arahant (View Comment):
    I’ll be happy to help.

    You are sweet. But I just realized something–it’s for a mystery, not necessarily a murder mystery. Phew. Gives me a little more latitude!

    • #16
    • January 24, 2020, at 12:59 PM PST
    • 5 likes
  17. Arahant Member

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    Arahant (View Comment):
    I’ll be happy to help.

    You are sweet. But I just realized something–it’s for a mystery, not necessarily a murder mystery. Phew. Gives me a little more latitude!

    Heh, heh, heh. What fun is that?

    • #17
    • January 24, 2020, at 1:00 PM PST
    • 2 likes
  18. Arahant Member

    Of course, you could have a little old lady misplacing her shawl and her grandkids go on a quest to find it. (And stumble across skeletons in the closets.)

    • #18
    • January 24, 2020, at 1:01 PM PST
    • 3 likes
  19. Skyler Coolidge

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    JosePluma (View Comment):

    EJHill (View Comment):

    Alright. When I read the headline I was expecting a lot more.

    A lot more.

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Well, @susanquinn, you know what you need to do now.

     

     

     

     

    Uh-oh! Any suggestions for plots, @josepluma?

    Sounds like a Hardy Boys story.

    • #19
    • January 25, 2020, at 5:56 AM PST
    • 1 like
  20. Stad Thatcher

    Susan Quinn: Do you have items that are just too precious to part with? Things for which you’ve bought or made replacements, but can’t quite give up the original?

    I still have the first tank top I bought when I was 16. My high school sweetheart thought I looked cool and muscular in it (I didn’t), and it was fun driving around wearing it after I got my license in the summer of ’71.

    Needless to say, I don’t fit in it now, and if I did manage to squeeze into it, the laughter from my family would cut me to the quick. No, it stays in the bottom of one of my dresser drawers . . .

    • #20
    • January 25, 2020, at 6:16 AM PST
    • 5 likes
  21. Arahant Member

    Stad (View Comment):
    Needless to say, I don’t fit in it now, and if I did manage to squeeze into it, the laughter from my family would cut me to the quick. No, it stays in the bottom of one of my dresser drawers . . .

    Why hang onto it?

    • #21
    • January 25, 2020, at 7:55 AM PST
    • 1 like
  22. KirkianWanderer Coolidge

    A painting by a Korean artist that I bought at the Big E a few months ago. My parents have gone every year since before I was born, and we went as usual a few days before I had to leave for college in England again. I’ve always been a big fan of traditional East Asian art (I have Hiroshige and Hokusai books that a friend brought as a present from Japan in my dorm and a traditional Chinese calligraphy set, which I unfortunately only get to practice at infrequently these days), and I was really struck by one of the painting he displayed. And in need of something to brighten up my room. It was a rocky cliff face shrouded in mist, spattered with little rivers and trees, that seemed both intimately familiar and completely foreign. My parents agreed to buy it for me, and my mom (who is far more social than I am) began chatting with the artist. He was amused when I tapped her in the leg with my foot for mentioned where I went to school, and very excitedly enquired of the places I had traveled around there (France, Austria, etc.). It turns out that he had once been fairly high up in the Red Cross, and traveled extensively around Europe before making a final move to the US. He also expressed admiration of the fact that I had chosen to go so far from home, which he felt too few kids chose to do now a days, so he asked if he could see my painting again. Already he had signed the back, but he added the Chinese characters and Korean words for courage and good luck, so that I would have much of both on my journey, and asked for a hug. I can’t imagine, now, ever giving up my painting, because it’s both a reminder of such a wonderful and totally unexpected experience, and a heartening reminder when I lose faith in myself to keep pushing forwards. And it’s still stunningly beautiful. 

    • #22
    • January 25, 2020, at 8:26 AM PST
    • 5 likes
  23. Stad Thatcher

    Arahant (View Comment):

    Stad (View Comment):
    Needless to say, I don’t fit in it now, and if I did manage to squeeze into it, the laughter from my family would cut me to the quick. No, it stays in the bottom of one of my dresser drawers . . .

    Why hang onto it?

    Memories . . .

    • #23
    • January 25, 2020, at 8:38 AM PST
    • 3 likes
  24. ShaunaHunt Coolidge

    Jeff Giambrone (View Comment):

    This jacket is one of my most treasured possessions – the lining is shot, the buttons are all loose and ready to fall off, the zipper barely works – but I love it because my dad bought it for me. My dad and I were very different people – he was an outgoing bank vice-president, and I was an introverted college kid studying to be an historian. I know my dad would have loved it if I had studied business or finance in college, but that just wasn’t what I was called to do, and my dad respected that. One day back in the late 1980’s we were at the local mall and my dad spotted this jacket – knowing that I loved all things military related, he bought it for me, and I have been wearing it ever since. The jacket may be well-worn, but she still has a lot of life left in her, and I am planning a major overhaul in the near future – new lining, re-sew the buttons, the works. My dad passed away in 2006, but every time I see this jacket, I think of him and it makes me happy.

     

    Please turn this into a post!

    • #24
    • January 26, 2020, at 12:05 PM PST
    • Like

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