The Star Polisher

by Carol Hess on April 11, 2011

(dedicated to my friend, Emilio Rojas)

About twenty years ago, I met a very interesting, rather mysterious, and definitely quite attractive Mexican writer named Emilio Rojas.  The publishing house where I was working had bought the English language rights to Emilio’s bestselling El Pequeño Hombre, and Emilio had come to our offices in Massachusetts to work on the translation of his book. 

Strange things started happening the minute Emilio walked in the door of the funky old house in which our offices were located.  That’s when the publishing house and the lives of the people who worked there were turned upside down and spun around, mine included. 

That’s also when I was introduced to the Star Polisher, a character in Emilio’s book.  Emilio even hinted I was a star polisher, but I didn’t understand what he meant, and I didn’t pay much attention.  I was too busy working on the book and trying to stay grounded in the middle of the tornado whirling through our offices. 

I eventually left the publishing house, but Emilio and I remained friends.  I visited him a couple of times in Mexico, and he came to visit me after I moved to Maine.  On each occasion, strange things happened, my life went careening off in an unusual direction, and I began to think I was in the presence of a sorcerer.  I’m not sure I wasn’t. 

All these years later, I finally understand why Emilio called me a star polisher.  And I understand why he dedicated a story to me that talked about the star polisher being someone who illuminates our dreams.  He was trying to tell me my life purpose, but I wasn’t ready to hear it. 

Back then I didn’t want to polish anyone else’s star.  I wanted to polish my own.  I didn’t want to illuminate anyone else’s dreams.  I wanted to illuminate my own. 

There were just a couple of problems with my plan.  I didn’t know what my star was, much less how to polish it.  And I didn’t have a clue what my dreams were or how to illuminate them. 

There was another thing I didn’t know back then, but I’m fairly sure Emilio did.  It’s something I’ve only recently discovered.  If you are a star polisher, then the way you polish your own star and illuminate your own dreams is to polish other people’s stars and illuminate other people’s dreams. 

Emilio said it best in the very last story of his book entitled Little Friend in English (p. 124).

Concerning the Star Polisher’s Profession

Once while traveling, I came across three star polishers.  I asked each one of them in turn why he had chosen that profession.

The first replied he had done so because it gave him the opportunity to see his own reflection every day.  The second said he had chosen it because his ancestors had always polished stars.

The third said: “I am a polisher of stars because I’ve noticed that often they are guiding lights for someone who has lost his way.  But I really do it because I want to become a master star polisher.  Then I will be prepared for the day when I meet my own star.”

I suspect you might be a star polisher, Dear Reader.  Maybe you’re even a master star polisher.  Tell us if you’ve met your own star and what it looks like.