Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Stuff and Nonsense!



The gulls call, and the sound of the surf on the rocks below slowly scrubs at the dawn. A cruise ship is materializing on the horizon and I shall take a photo of it when there's enough light. Yet another souvenir? I sit here up on the fourth floor surrounded by unpacked boxes and by the workman's tools and by the drywall pieces and broken studs of our renovation. Organized chaos is the term. But we are getting there, if 'there' be the settled place sufficiently to read, write, paint, play music, entertain.

Stuff seems to take up so much of life, especially when one moves. And every time we've gotten rid of stuff we've needed to acquire yet more. The place we just left is going to be rented out fully furnished, right down to the wine-opener and toilet brushes, which means this one we've just moved into needs that sort of stuff purchased too. And both places needed complete cleaning, behind fridges, stoves, laundry machines, door lintels, barbecues, and wall patching and painting and...

When is enough 'enough'? Having renovated so many times in my life (my interior self as well as geographical properties, ha!) I can appreciate the feeling of leaving a place better than one found it. Even rented apartments were always left cleaner, spiffier, more shelf-lined, stove scrubbed, walls painted, better blinds or curtains or linoleum or cleaner carpets than I found them. Not bragging, just explaining. So what is it in oneself that cannot just move in 'as is', but seeks to change and nest and 'make a place one's own'? Or do we? I've several friends, particularly of the younger variety, who take little or no personal pride in their nest. And some of them have very few possessions too. No attachment to stuff means they have no library, no music collection (before the days of iTunes, that is), let alone an assortment of souvenirs wrestled from place to place as proof of having 'been there, done that'. What do I do with my very many theatre plaques and trophies; hang them up yet once more in my studio? Even when I had them hung I don't recall anyone actually bothering to take any time to see. As for me? Been there!

Those of us who were impoverished as children find a certain comfort in now having things on a shelf. Certainly that is what books and Record Albums (CD's) do, have done for me. On the last move, a year ago, I sold off some 2,500 plus items. But a lot of the stuff stills ticks in my mind. Yet I am learning to let go. Yet ego, the self, the collector, the without, the must have, the need, the want, the desire, the gotta-get-it persists in its guises. Oh, occasionally I'll relent and purchase something on Amazon, or on iTunes. How else do I get 'Renaissance sings Renaissance', an album of Annie Haslam tunes I'd once seen but never found again? Or what about Anna Maria Alberghetti? No second hand record store (never mind a new one) had ever located a copy of her 'Fala Na Na' lullaby for me, so I had her CD shipped from Japan! Worth it. Quite the singer to hear!

Stuff can own us. I guess the ability to let it all go if the house burns down, or if it be burgled, or should it break and need to be tossed, makes the difference. Meantime, especially if one had been impoverished in childhood, there is a deep sense of appreciation for having something, for seeing it there on the shelf for reference in the mind and heart. I remember as a child seeing the very sour-dour looking face of a man behind a Jaguar, and thinking that he does not deserve the car. Hey! Appreciate stuff!


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