Gratitude * Sunday
Sunday’s heartfelt tradition.
A time to slow down, to reflect, to be grateful.
A list of gratitudes, our gratefulness feeds one another.
Quoted from Taryn Wilson
Joining the Gratitude Sunday Tradition at Wooly Moss Roots.
Last weekend’s snow melts
away, reveals earth’s revel:
white snowdrop blossoms.
Jean-Paul Sartre said, “Hell is other people.” Sartre, like many artists, was a bit of an introvert, but the passion burned within him and he was compelled, like many artists, to write down his voice. Amend that quote for me to read, “Hell is other people’s stuff.”
Oh, I know what Sartre meant; cigarette smoke and body odors, perfumes, scented detergents and dryer sheets on clothing; so many voices, raucous and discordant; nervous vibrations from bio-electric energy other than mine, and my nervous vibrations being around theirs; being polite when nobody else is; being politically correct when nobody else is; not being politically correct when everybody else is; judgmental body or mind police; bullies; differences. And all that comes with stuff, the material goods of being in this life, of existing within a culture and its standards of living. Even when I isolate myself I am surrounded by other people’s stuff, engulfed in my own funny little hell, unwilling to relinquish the stuff that keeps me grounded in this world.
At 60 years of age, I have never shopped for or bought a car or household furniture. I have finally learned how to buy larger appliances, like clothes washers and dryers. All my cars have been given to me; no, wait, I’m exaggerating; I did get to buy one Volvo of my choice, and there were a couple ugly cars I bought because they came along as a cheap deal, but my household furniture is all second hand. Somebody was downsizing or got to buy something new. I got the benefit of some lovely (and some not so much) stuff without the hassle of shopping.
I like old stuff as well as new stuff so I don’t dare shop at garage sales, estate sales, thrift stores, or antiques/collectibles stores. My money would just fly right out of my hands, not for stuff I necessarily need, but for stuff I like. I thought about owning my own collectibles shop so I could have the excuse to cruise the estate sales, but I wouldn’t be able to sell the stuff I like. Oh wait. Permanent collections are called museums. I could be curator of my own museum. Now, there’s a thought: own your stuff and sell per-views so you can keep your stuff. I’d have to call it a Museum of Stuff. Given time I bet I could come up with a more clever name for the museum too.
My sources are drying up as my elders die and their estates are cleared out. It’s just as well; I like the stuff I have, and it’s way too obvious I have no decorating sense. My style is “hippie jumble”, or on my worst days “eclectic everything”. The lovely part to me is I live with my ancestors; their stuff surrounds me: my uncle’s Chinese table and his water color painting of a curvaceous reclining Tahitian woman that came free with a couch he bought, I remember the painting in his living room from my earliest memories but not the couch; my father’s wrought iron leather-sewing machine he used to create and repair leather goods to sell; my mother’s pieced together wash stand, the base doesn’t match the marble top but it looks as if it does; my mother-in-law’s carved oriental cedar chest I admired for years as part of her bedroom décor; my grandmother’s fanciful embroidered peacock textile framed by my mother; my father-in-law’s recliner, the kind that lifts electrically to give you a boost up if you need it.
As I get older I find I’ve come to a point where I want less stuff around me; stuff weighs upon me, weighs me down, and it has to be kept clean or it’s not lovely. The challenge is I have trouble letting stuff go. Much of my stuff has no value to anyone but me. I know the stories behind the stuff.
Like the story of why I have a life-long friend’s baby shoe,
her name written on the sole in her mother’s handwriting. Just one. My baby shoes were bronzed and crafted into a picture frame, a popular practice in the 1950s when I was a baby. I have that too.
Does stuff lose value if it has no story? Probably not. The meaning and the story just changes; it’s not my story anymore. If I give the stuff to family the story becomes theirs and no longer mine, unless they bother to remember my part of the story. Having garage sales gives me the creeps; I worked hard enough to decide to give it up and then to have strangers paw through my stuff turning up their noses or offering less than the value I decided for it. Eww.
I suspect genetic damage involving an over-attachment to stuff because of coming from multiple generations of people who never had enough. I have enough. I have more than enough. I’ve nearly hit critical mass of having too much more than enough. This is a relative “too much” as I live an abundant life on a small income (read: no cash flow) and small scale, which is all I need. In my fantasy worlds (fantasy is about desire) I imagine living abundant lives at a whole different level, but I am grateful to have what I live.
I want to live more comfortably with my lovely stuff in my little life. My goal this summer is to spend a few hours organizing and arranging so I can comfortably enjoy the lovely ancestral stuff of my life. I’ll de-clutter along the way. If I am persistent and work an hour or two every week it will be done by autumn. I get a little jealous of women who are able to choose to stay home, but Mom always said, “Housework always waits for you.” She was right there.
Neither my social skills nor my home keeping skills are very, well, skilled. I don’t know how to behave around other people, and certain people have taken advantage of that or mocked that, which makes me even more introverted, and fear produces an organic hell. My housekeeping skills are lacking mostly because of time restraints.
I prefer to spend my little available time taking care of myself and my few peeps, obtaining fresh food and cooking it simply, reading and learning and writing about health and other curious interests of mine. I think, though, investing a few short hours this summer organizing will make more comfortable time with my peeps. I can create the feeling of a little more space by making better use of my space, getting rid of some stuff, and arranging the rest to be eye-pleasing. So my private hell can be more comfortable. Oh, and by the way, I need a car, so keep me in mind next time you get a new one.
Color Watch – blooming attractions in my neighborhoods this week – late winter gives the most welcome surprises. This week brings hot pink hyacinths; pure white snowdrops; crocuses of cream and yellow and purple; wood violets; and a real treat found by a friend, Mary Drew caught this lenten rose. All Color Watch flower pictures this week are courtesy of Mary Drew. I enjoy reading Mary’s blog about family and her reflections on old-fashioned values in a modern world.
Currently Reading – Takedown Twenty (2013, fiction) by Janet Evanovich; The Joy of x: A Guided Tour of Math, from One to Infinity (2012, mathematics) by Steven Strogatz. Yes, concurrently.
Winter Classic Reading Choice 2014: The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne.
This week I have been grateful for:
- Winter winds bringing spring in.
- Really liking the sentence fragment above which has only “i” for vowels. And making fun bragging about it.
- How earth and heart have the same letters.
- Emory boards.
- Not having to wear darned socks.
- Finding two cute-shaped, light-weight, crocheted style sweaters in my size and colors at 90% mark-down.
- Getting to see Tatjana Soli read from her original work for free at the university walking distance from my home. Yes, I want to read her work.
- A bag of sweet and juicy tangelos.
- Somebody else in the household preparing meals.
- The grizzled white hairs that don’t conform coming in around my hairline.
- Growing older in a home I am still able to pay for.
- That brief moment when the evening sky is filled with twitter-light blue, a light grayed sky blue, and layered with obscene pink how-do-you-describe-these-colors sunset tangerine, and gray and creamy clouds.
- That briefer moment when the last wisp of color is gone from the sky.
- Running outside to enjoy those few fleeting minutes of color change and communing with my environment.
- Discovering the tulip the son gave me for Mother’s Day two years ago has sent up some promising leaves. I realize tulip bulbs only last a few years. Last year the hubster weed-eated it before it could bloom. I thought he killed it. We’ll see if I can protect it this year and get a blossom or two.
- Modern technology and the interesting large TV screen which brings the curious me Winter Olympics 2014 from the other side of the world, and videos of my choice when I finally sit down to it, and this crazy keyboard I type, type, type on and the screen I view what I type, type, typed.
Hoping you have a lovely week.
Namaste. Peace. Blessings.