When I teach symbolism to my students I always use the classic examples. Sunshine often represents hope. Water means cleansing. White stands for purity. I taught the lesson on symbolism last week to my night class and I began to think about how highly cultural and personal symbolism can be.
Then, last night it snowed. The first snow of the winter. Usually this event represents the hope of school closings, days spent at home in my pajamas, or outdoor adventures with my husband. But this year, the white felt like a heavy blanket, covering me with the weight of things not yet accomplished and the increasing difficulty of accomplishing them in the oncoming bleak weather.
As I contemplated these feelings and my lesson on symbolism I found that winter white is a good symbol for who I have been (and not, I think, for who I would like to become).
I was born in the cold. I grew up clearing the ice to skate, stacking the wood for warmth, bundling myself up before bed. The white of winter reminds me of my own cold heart, my icy independence, my perfectionism like snow killing the grass below.
The winter white is blank, it causes blindness, it shimmers and cracks. I, too, feel blank. I attempt to keep my personality that way in order to complement the expectations of others, never to clash. This emotional whiteout has blinded me to who I am, who I was created to be. I may shimmer with talent and promise but I crack upon closer inspection.
My life is like winter white, and I am waiting for the warmth of Christmas, of Christ, my Messiah to arrive.
What are some symbols that run through your writing? Or perhaps more importantly, through your life?