September 15, 2010 § 1 Comment

My friends and I are tired of the “stuff” we’ve worked so hard to acquire.  It’s being set out by the curb, dropped off at Goodwill, given away on Craig’s list—you have a big truck? 

Simplicity is beginning to look good, so we’re demoting our “stuff” to “junk” and letting it go.  

We no longer respect these objects or perhaps even the person we were when we acquired them—maybe we’re discarding that old self along with the junk, hoping to be left with something pure when the dust settles.

But I wonder if the stuff is the problem, or if the problem is our relationship with what we acquire.  Maybe we should choose with care, then love the objects we own more rather than less

Beauty, utility, or the power to evoke memory–worthy objects can possess all these traits.  Some, like my Guild guitar, become friends of long standing. 

Some even rise to the level of the sacred.  

Windowsills and shelves throughout my house are arranged like the one above becoming small household shrines.   An abreviated inventory of the objects displayed follows (to see what’s really there, click on the image, let it load, then click agan):

Feathers lost by our neighborhood’s Barred Owls.

An antique bottle found under the eaves of “The Mansion House,” the building my husband and I worked in at The Baltimore Zoo.

Rocks gathered in Maine, on Lake Superior, and one picked up in the Rutgers parking lot after our daughter, Josie, did her PhD walk.

A turkey made by my friend Peggy, all parts cut from magazine pages and cereal boxes.

A well-dressed clothes pin.

A cutoff chunk of wood Josie rescued from the floor of her father’s shop and turned into a “Christmas House” using magic markers.

A black and white crowd in fine hats all looking up at Mother Teresa, who is looking up at something higher still.

Discarded laboratory glassware rescued from a dumpster.

A glass heart given to me by my publisher and friend, Margaret Quinlin.

All our shelves and windowsills look like this.  Spiders love them and they are hard to dust, but each object has its own beauty, or quirkiness, or humor.  Neither stuff, nor junk, each is a small presence, and all merit the space they occupy.

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§ One Response to Stuff.

  • Gina says:

    As Mark and I prepare for our garage sale — a combination of our ‘stuff’ and things we brought back from his dad’s — your entry today holds specific significance. It is a reminder that as I sort and price, I should chose carefully those things I wish to keep. I am always concerned that I will give away or throw away or sell something that held monumental meaning for either Mark’s dad or mom — a meaning neither of us know about and now can never know. So it makes me afraid to let go.


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