Don’t need a weatherman…

I started to declutter my junk drawer the other day. I’m still going. It’s taking a while because it is actually a junk chest of drawers that is also masquerading as a bedside table. Which means 4 levels of junk – 3 hidden and 1 in full view. The finish line feels like a mirage in the desert. But with less hope.

You know you’ve left it too long when some of the things you find make you question if these are, in fact, your drawers and you haven’t accidentally started sorting through someone else’s stuff, because a) you don’t recognise the contents and b) you can’t believe you are the type of person who keeps the envelopes from birthday cards in case they come in handy for craft. It suddenly dawns on you that if you had time for craft-like activities, you probably wouldn’t have let your drawers get into such a state. Oh, the irony.

Before continuing, I look around for confirmation of ownership and find it in the jar of homemade slime on the windowsill and the 15 hair-ties belonging to my 9 year old (so that’s where they are!) Yes – this is, indeed, my bedroom. No more excuses.

The decluttering process uncovers the following:

  • scented candles that are waiting for a ‘special occasion’
  • Australia Day face paint kit. (Australia Day is in January. Keep for next year?)
  • dubious-looking tube of hand cream circa 2013 (bin it!)
  • about 27 pens, not all of which have ink in them
  • bright pink lipstick, as yet unworn and no longer to be saved for a possible 80s Revival Night.

Amongst the clutter, however, I find a gem. No, an actual gem, set in a mood ring. If you ever had one of these as a child or a teenager in the 80s or 90s you will know the excitement of checking the stone for a magical shift in colour that (allegedly) corresponds with your emotional state. Light blue = relaxed, green = active, brown = nervous, etc.. I think I had this ring when I was about 18 and it has miraculously survived three continents and 20+ years. I slip it onto my finger.

My 9 year old is excited. ‘Mummy, you have a mood ring?!!’ Apparently it is back in fashion (I am now ‘retro’) and she is familiar with its colour-changing powers. She looks at the ring (the stone is black) and then looks at me with pursed lips and raised eyebrows. ‘It says you’re stressed!’  I tell her I haven’t worn it in a while so the ring and I just need to get used to each other again. She knows the science behind it – that it responds to a change in temperature – so she holds my hand and declares that it is warm enough for the ring not to be showing black. But it doesn’t change. She furrows her brow.

I know this ring is an inanimate object but as it claims to have special powers, I try to engage with it whilst breathing deeply, in the hope that it will pick up on the change. Nothing. I wear it to a dance class. I wear it to a presentation I am giving at work. I wear it driving home with my Karaoke playlist at a volume high enough to drown out my singing. All situations that should induce different moods and therefore different colours on the ring:  Relaxed, Active, Nervous, Happy. But nothing. It stares back at me, still black. For a mood ring, I say to it, you’re not very forthcoming. It ignores me. This ring is, in fact, just not in the mood.

So I take a different approach. Perhaps I just accept that this ring is not for changing. Perhaps it is time to look inward rather than out. Mood rings are fun but there is only one real authority, one expert, one guardian of our own emotions. Bob Dylan said it best in ‘Subterranean Homesick Blues’: ‘You don’t need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows.’ 

To appease the 9 year old who is now worried that her mother is perpetually stressed, I look it up. “Eventually a mood ring will turn black and stop responding.” Aha! There is a logical, scientific (and slightly depressing) explanation for this mystery. If this ring was a Shakespearean character, it would not be Cleopatra because age has withered it, and custom has staled its infinite variety.

I’m still wearing the ring, though. Obviously not to tell me what my emotional state is, but to remind me that my mood is my choice. The stone may be black but there can still be warmth on the inside.

Oh, and it is also a reminder to light those scented candles and get those drawers finished. Preferably before Australia Day.

©2017 Seetha Dodd

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