I’ve mentioned that I’m moving. I’ve been packing boxes here and there for weeks now. The moving company I hired has packing tips, a FAQ, and a blog all talking about the best way to move. Getting an early start is on one of those lists, and so is the admission that packing things for one’s self invariably leads to moments of delay and nostalgia.
It’s dawned on me, in my many delighted discoveries amid the jumble of my own stuff, that what I have has been hiding the things I have that I love. It is a myriad of circumstances that has amounted to the stuff I have now and I have been feeling suffocated by it for sometime. I like to weed out the ‘it’s ok’ from the ‘I love that so much’ at regular intervals, and I have fallen behind in this chore. I think utilitarian and aesthetically pleasing should be the same. I think that everyday plates and fine china should be the same. I think a thing is useless if it is not used, no matter how expensive or precious it may be. And I think that useful things are only necessary-evils (perhaps unnecessary) when their form and construction does not delight the user.
I am not a minimalist. I love mementos. I am the kid who could not pass by a shiny object in a parking lot without picking it up and evaluating its potential to come home with me. But I do not simply collect all things teddy bear (OK, I did when I was 10). The things I gather about me are varied in appearance, not easily predictable, and precious because they mean something to me. This goes for a growing personal library as well.
But, how often have I bought a book because it was of passing interest and/or I really did not want to leave the store without a purchase? How many of the things around me am I keeping because someone at sometime gave them to me and I don’t want to run the risk of insulting them? How many things do I have that are precious to someone else and not me? These things that I don’t care so much for have been blocking my view to the things for which I do care very much. They are not rubbish; they are not entirely lacking in meaning, but they could be much better put to use by someone who would like them better than I do.
I have been walking into my apartment and heading for one small corner every evening. My stuff lives in the rest of the apartment, not me. When I bring home any new precious object, I keep it on the coffee table, in a semi-conscious effort to keep it from being swallowed up by everything else. How have I let it get this way?
I am packing boxes, sorting things as I go and making piles of things to go to donation. I am packing boxes, becoming excited at the coming opportunity to use all my great stuff when I unpack it. All my great stuff has been here the whole time, and I had forgotten. My view of it had been blocked by everything else that has been here too.
I have stored things before, boxes that traveled around with my mother because I could not take them to college with me. Extra stuff that didn’t have a place and ended up in a bin in the closet. I have often proclaimed that if I didn’t remember what was in it, then I didn’t need any of it anymore. That should go for drawers and shelves and closets too. Can you shut your eyes and imagine every thing in the cupboard next to the stove? How about the coat closet? If you went there and looked would you say ‘Awesome! I forgot all about that; I gotta use it now!’ or would you say ‘oh, yeah, I forgot about that, I’m always moving it out of the way?’ I found way too many, ‘oh, yeah’ items and I don’t want to move with them. I don’t want them in the way of the ‘Awesome!’ things anymore.
I feel like Sarah in the Labyrinth, with my stuff distracting me from what’s really important (only there’s no hermit woman over my shoulder and I haven’t eaten a wormy peach-’cause that’s nasty).