I once saw a woman wearing the most extraordinary dress on Mardi Gras day. From a distance she looked like a flurry of color, of hot-whites and neon-greens and flamingo-pinks flapping in the breezy sun.
As I got closer, I saw that the dress was made of paper, hundreds of sheets affixed to a full-length ball gown cascading in ruffles around her, enveloping her.
Studying the papers I saw what they were: rejection letters, hundreds of them, each in their own unique and roundabout way refusing to publish her work. From beneath the ball gown she beamed, twirling and dipping in the second line parade, baring her face to the liquid sun.
I imagined her before she was the woman in an extraordinary dress, what she must have done as the days and months and years of rejection surmounted: collected each slip in a dresser drawer, the one just below her socks, just in case she needed to recall who had denied her.
One day, opening the drawer to a sea of vibrant paper, she imagined that the rejection letters were no longer rejection letters but folds of a strange and beautiful silk, variegated in hue and texture and luster.
She gathered the material in her arms, released it onto the floor and began sewing steadily, patiently, until each and every single inch of rejection was accounted for in a dress as large and full as a fairytale.
And so wearing her gown of color, she asks us, how do you wear your rejection?
Do you drape it over your head like a dark hood, awaiting the guillotine of failure?
Or do you take each inch of rejection in your bare hands and start working it into something else: a hot air balloon that carries you up and up, a boat that brings you forward and onward, a dress as large and fiery as the sun itself?
Gazing at yourself dressed up in your own rejection, do you see something greater and grander, the queen of Mardi Gras Day?