Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Writing from the Heart: Innocence Lost & Found

(click image to enlarge)
Photo/Text © Copyright 2012 Sean M. Madden

FOUND: A Pint-Sized Ballet Slipper in a Pint-Sized Purple Plastic Bag

A simple observation.

A solitary ballet slipper found within a purple plastic bag. The leather sole of the ballet slipper is hand-initialed ML. The transparent bag is shiny new, and was left hooked upon the rod-iron fence which surrounds the war memorial outside St John the Baptist, Southover, Lewes.

A simple post stemming from a simple observation.

I came upon the pint-sized purple plastic bag holding just one pint-sized ballet slipper while out on a walk this afternoon — a walk mostly downhill from our High Street apartment to the low-lying ancient Priory of St Pancras. There we would sit on the grass amidst worm castings, our backs resting against the sun-warmed flint ruins, warming our bodies and our souls.

But we had yet to reach the Priory when we came upon the unexpected sight.

And while this post emanates from this simple observation, the power of the piece is not in the telling, not in the laying out of the factual, technical details. The power is in the pull of our hearts as we consider the pint-sized girl who has lost her shiny new purple bag as well as at least one of her ballet slippers. And we wonder how she fares. Is she terribly upset? Is she worried sick?

Was she on her way to her first dance recital, perhaps on her way home, the bag having been a special gift to mark the occasion? Was the bag, and the pair of slippers, the stuff of her fondest dreams? Is she and her mother — perhaps her father and brother, too — searching everywhere at this very moment for these precious personal belongings, turning things upside down, looking, turning events over and over, trying to remember, to recall where the bag and slipper could have been left, when they were last in their possession?

And what memories within our own hearts are triggered in response to the sight itself as well as the considered implications? What precious belongings have we lost? What treasured moments did we stow away in our hearts, only to lose them over time?

As writers, and as human beings, we must allow ourselves to feel, to tear down the scaffolding we've erected around our hearts, and to open ourselves up to being touched, to feeling both pain and joy, and the myriad emotions in between. We must begin, gently, to acknowledge what we feel within in response to the world we witness without. We'll, thereby, acknowledge the truth of our own life experience, and rediscover what we thought we'd lost ages ago — our innocence.

We might even begin to wonder whether the worlds within and without are so very different, whether they are, in fact, two.

What have you lost and then refound by way of your writing? Share with us your story in the comments below ...


  1. My first thought was that someone found the slipper in the vicinity, then purposely put it in an eye-catching bag to hang where the little Cinderella could easily find it!

    There was thoughtfulness in not only returning the found object, but in providing an answer to prevent future loss...


  2. Hello Gabrielle,

    Thank you for stopping by MLG, reading the post, and for leaving your comment.

    I can report that I've gone past that same place on a few occasions over the course of my day-to-day travels today, and it's still there, unclaimed.

    I had purposely retweeted the post several times with our hometown hashtag (#Lewes), hoping that a local who perhaps knows the family who lost the slipper and bag might contact them and let them know where to find it.

    We'll see, fingers crossed ...