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a rusty paper clip

It had been quite a while since Paula had the time enough to take a leisurely drive through the country. Too much of her time focused on the obligations of life so that free time for relaxing became more of a dream rather than reality.
On this beautifully-sunny autumn morning, however, Paula promised herself the luxury of a country drive with her favorite music as traveling companion. Sun slivers trickled through windowpanes, enticing Paula to waste not one more minute of preparation. The morning didn’t care about Paula primping on makeup or fixing curls in her raven hair. Each moment spent on appearances meant less time embedded in sunshine. With a quick brush, Paula pulled her hair from the trappings of her jacket, tossed her head freely and strode towards the front door.
She opened the car door, snuggled in the seat and started the car. Her thoughts brought her to a small park at least an hour away, complete with picturesque pond and, last she ventured, several swans gliding smoothly on a looking-glass surface. Visions of this destination beckoned her as the crisp fall air skimmed her face with a cool whisper. She slightly opened the car windows at the top inviting the last vestiges of sun-warmed breezes filter through her car. With her, several groups of papers that needed sorting remained on the passenger seat. Paula, unable or unwilling to be totally absorbed in carefree abandon, still had a smidgen of organizing to do under the confidence of this September sun.
Golden rays glistened, reflected from glass buildings as she hugged the right lane of the interstate. Cars weaved in and out of lanes like threaded needles, stitching in and out of cloth. Paula hummed a tune from the car radio that reminded her of her college days in years gone by. A gentle smile lit her face with each memory of her brief, but precious relationships, each now only a memory, but each molding her into the fullness that reflected her life today.
Suddenly, a keen wind snapped through the open car windows and twisted her neatly piled papers, shuffling them into disarray. She instinctively slowed down with one hand on the wheel and the other trying to reach under the seat, on the floor to gather them back together. She fumbled for something to hold them tightly together, but her bag was well out of her reach. Then Paula remembered a small stow-away compartment next to the glove-box. Her fingers reached clumsily and pulled open the grey plastic drawer. There inside was an old, rusted paper clip that Paula had almost vacuumed the week before as she was cleaning the car. It was an old, metal  paper clip that had just begun to rust around the curvature of the metal. She had found it under the plastic rim of the black car rug just before the vacuum would have swallowed it up. And while she didn’t think much about keeping it or disposing of it, she automatically pulled open the tiny compartment and placed the paper clip inside, out of the way of her ferocious vacuuming. And now, in a moment of heightened need, she remembered the old, rusting, but useful paper clip. Paula managed to grab all of the dancing pages back into one pile onto the passenger seat, held them with one hand, flipped the paper clip around with one maneuver of her fingers and stuffed the stack of papers into the protective custody of the paper clip.
In a unique moment of need, we sometimes don’t find or have the most modern, efficient or effective remedy. Many times, circumstances warrant the flexibility to gather the first thing that comes to mind or within our grasp to correct a difficult situation. In order not to allow that difficulty to become disaster, we use our ingenuity and resourcefulness to problem-solve. Sometimes actions happen so quickly, it almost seems as if another source of energy takes over.
Like a rusty paper clip, our attempts at problem-solving may not be the most resourceful approach, but they, more often than not, serve us well to correct an immediate issue. How important it can be not to discard that which is useful just because of a bit of rust. You never know when one day, in spite of appearances or age, something (or someone) can be a practical solution to a very real problem that demands immediate attention.