Writing is a rusty tool shed. I go inside and it all looks so familiar. I remember when I wrote that piece. I fondly thumb through decades old notebooks. I remember where I was and where I was when I first cracked the spine on the unwritten tome.

Look at my tools and my failures as one. I look for my successes. But they’re grown up and moved out of the house long ago. They left me and we talk. Sure, we talk every few months.

They call at Christmas and on my birthday. They’re dutiful children. But they’re gone now. Living their own lives with their own problems.

The failures still live with me. Malformed and demented they lounge around. They’ve not inspiration to better themselves. They feel their time has passed. They and I lock eyes, only for a moment. We don’t speak. There’s nothing left to say.

This familiar ritual taxes us. The missed opportunities are remembered along with piles of what ifs and we almosts.

As I stand to leave, there’s a shudder as the shed settles. The words rearranged slightly. The tools cleaned and put back in their places. All neat and tidy. A hand-crafted monument to disappointment.

Rarely, I will remove a tool from the shed. I will clean it off and prepare it for use. I use that tool or I lend it out. If I can’t use it, someone else might. If my rusty old tools can get new life in another shed, then it was worth it. It’s worth keeping all these old tools around.

It’s worth the ritual. The cleaning and organizing let me see them in a new light and reminds me of when they were new. It reminds me of when I first got them, so full of expectation and excitement. I was ready to use them. I was prepared to make great things with them. But now they sit, rusting away in my shed. Hoping for new life.

Their day may come. But they see the new tools join the shed. Even if only briefly before they’re used or shared. The new tools are always the exciting ones. The old tools are just that. They’ve lost their shine and purpose.

Feature photo from Gratisography