I always begin my day reading the newest posts from overnight. Prior to coffee, before breakfast, just after calming the cat with food so that she can move on to one of her frequent, short naps…you are all my welcome to the morning ritual.
Yesterday The Dancing Professor posted this: Beginning the Cull. She kinda sorta posted on the same topic today, although it was more specific, and less about the emotion behind tossing, and remembering, and culling, and moving on. I responded to her post, which shared her need to ‘hang on’ to the material, with my opposite viewpoint: stuff and things must go. Often and without remorse.
Yesterday, stuff and things went without really much remorse at all. I was cleaning out a closet, adjusting, making room for other things. Plus I had some old, but usable clothing that needed to be donated. It was a re-purposing day, not a major dump day. TDP got me to thinking though, with her comments.
For instance, she remarked on the posterity issue. Perhaps, in some future world, she wondered if some of her stuff and things could provide fodder for imaginative musings about this world way back when, as fifty, seventy-five, 100 years in the future, historians, or maybe archaeologists, come across the random remains of her life and attempt to puzzle out a clear picture of just who TDP, or others of her generation, might have been. I see her point, yet when I look at my own stuff and things, meager and mundane stuff and things, the only puzzle my little pile of kept treasures will reveal seems inconsequential at best. Of course, we can’t all leave something monumental behind, and yes I know all about ‘leaving a legacy’ of bright imaginative good people in the form of children and grandchildren…which I believe that I have/will, and am thankful for, but as to what might be deduced from material things…my stuff and things are no treasure trove waiting to be discovered.
My future vision includes a group of anthropologists, their archaeologist cousins, and their documentary team of historians, all in shiny futuristic attire, sitting around my pictures of children and grandchildren, my books on gender and feminism, my vegetarian cookbooks, my yarn stash, my box of childhood mementos. They ponder, scratching their heads, analyzing, making generalizations and building theories, then concluding in a nicely written, but rather short research article, that Subject XYZ123 was just your average, liberal left-inclined female who valued her family, who disliked greatly the oppressive, and archaic nature of society (and lots of other socially relevant issues), who sometimes ate bacon even though she claimed to be a vegetarian, who enjoyed the occasional creative urge with fiber art, and who grew into adulthood outwardly wanting to be popular like Marcia Brady, while underneath she held fiercely to the heart of a lonely, lost, streetwise, tough (perhaps even slightly bad ass) Julie Barnes, aka Peggy Lipton.
TDP and I also conversed on the issue of what those left behind must do with all ones stuff and things, especially if those left to deal are dealing with years and years and large, or larger, amounts of stuff and things. I had to question this point:
Contextually, will the dealers in this venture have a firm grasp on the meaning of every scrap left behind…like Dan who finds the square of toilet paper wrapping an obviously used razor blade circa 1955. Or what about Caren, who discovers the sonic toothbrush from 2005, bristles flared to flat and useless but still sitting in its charger even though advances in cell modification and dentistry around 2030 led to the development of human dentition that never harbors plaque or decays…
Will Franklin care much, or at all, about Uncle Fred’s lime green leisure suit from 1975, other than to laugh hysterically and perhaps plan an amazing Halloween costume party…
Will Aunt Sallie’s two remaining nieces feel pressured to hang on to the seven complete sets, including matching glassware, of Noritake China and dinnerware that they find gathering dust in the pantry…especially in light of the fact that Colleen is a minimalist living in a yurt along the coast, and Deanna won’t accept any item that screams of past gendered ideals defining femininity, home, and a woman’s place within it…
Personally, I don’t want my descendants, or strangers, to be faced with these sorts of odd, laughable, and possibly disturbing scenarios while trying to figure out why, or what possibly possessed me to hang on.
I think my family knows me well enough to realize that either they, or the random person who is assigned to put my life away, will have a relatively easy job. The family already knows the stories behind the memorable stuff and things, the rest that they may find isn’t really red-flagged as being objects needing exploration of deeper meaning. I certainly don’t have a stash of valuables waiting to be displayed under glass with red-velvet ropes marking safe distances from alarm triggers, or peeling portraits of ancient ancestors waiting to take their place along gallery walls. There are literally no skeletons hidden in my closet, or under my floor boards.
There is a set of faded, scuffed, used-to-be white high-top baby shoes, a ragged picked-over-to-bare and adored stuffed ‘Chippie,’ a few odd concert ticket stubs, a few diplomas, photos on actual paper, and bits of other fluff and stuff and things to deal with, later…as needed.
I admire TDP, and those like her, who want to hold onto their most prized and personal stuff and things. I think that we all have different levels though of just how many of those things we need to keep around. For a time, I like knowing that a particular thing exists in my world, but after the pulling out, dusting off, touching, and waxing nostalgic on that thing, I feel okay about putting the must have wine chiller, or the 7th baking tin, or the over-sized (and now very costly) piece of luggage, into the donate pile.
I’d rather share myself and my life now. Memories remain, and even if those fade I’m not sure that in thirty years I will care much when I pull out my report card from 2nd grade and my standout memory from that year in elementary school was the day my lunch box flew out of my hand, the thermos inside shattered, my 1/2 tuna fish sandwich (mayo and not refrigerated) was soaked and inedible, and Mrs. Harrell looked at me and commented with a sad, quizzical look on her face, “Only 1/2 a sandwich? That’s not much for a growing girl.”