Several, as in twenty plus, years ago, I found a book that extolled the virtues of simplicity and clutter free living. For twenty plus years, I have been trying to reach a point where I feel my life is simple and clutter free.
My problem has often been sentimentalism and indecision and not knowing when I will get there. “There” being some indefinable place in time and reality.
With both my parents and his parents and all our grandparents passed on, we have the leftover trinkets, photos, furniture and even my parents’ home to manage. I have pared down a great deal. But, my problem is that some of the things I have inherited are not necessarily useful or my style. Mind you, there are no antiques even, just old stuff. I will get things that are more my style and then get rid of them in a de-clutter session because it is easier than dealing with getting rid of the objects that remind me of our ancestors. The objects are not holy relics to me, just simple reminders. Some things are truly wonderful pieces that I do treasure and would grieve should they be lost. A piece of pottery, a conch shell, copper ash trays, an ostrich egg to name a few. So maybe there are some holy relics in the pile now that I list them in print.
Still, sometimes, I want to box up everything I own and toss it out the door. I want to be able to start over with everything, partly because some things do cause so much anxiety. The real issue is more comical and human. I read books and blog articles about people who live with two pairs of pants and four shirts, have a bed and a table with one chair and some floor pillows. Of course, I am exaggerating, but not too much. I think I should do whatever I read about. If it is in a book it must be true…..like the notion that everything on the internet has to be true! Human foibles. Of course, I don’t believe those notions, but it still creates a conflict in my mind because I am not content with the way things are and am seeking a better way.
I recall living in California when the children were infants. My house was very simple. We did have more furniture than described on the bloggers’ pages as mentioned above, but only the barest basics. I had few artifacts and only a handful of clothes. I could clean my entire home, front to back in a few hours. Dusting, polishing, mopping every surface. Even when we came back to Texas, there were a few years with very little to deal with. Then things continued to accumulate even with my tossing things out regularly. People passing away; their things often falling to me to disposition.
I think most observers would consider my home to be uncluttered. It is usually fairly tidy and as clean as I can manage with him and two medium size dogs who love to roll in the dirt or mud outside and then come in and roll all over the rugs and floor. (Thank goodness for a tile floor!)
I am not sure where the unease comes from. Perhaps, it is leftover anxiety from grief. I have not regained balance completely. On one hand, knowing the objects don’t matter and on the other hand, letting the objects remind me of my loved ones. Then, again, many of the things I still have are just my style. If I were to go on a treasure hunt to decorate my home, they are the kinds of things I would seek. So, in the end, my ancestors’ treasures have become mine. Not just relics, but my own signature of style.
I have three treasure tables and a bookcase of books, dolls and trinkets. Here is one of my treasure tables. Some of the things I have purchased for myself, others are “holy relics”.
From around the world and down through the years, trinkets and relics. Catching light, catching dust, pouring out memory, pouring out identity. Telling stories and keeping secrets. I wonder what my children and grandchildren will do with each of you. Will they hear the stories I tell about the loved one from whose hands it passed? Will they feel a connection with the ages of simple living and loving of those who lived and loved enough to bring us into this world? I believe they will. I must believe they will. For in their memories and stories dwells my immortality and my legend.