On Loving Things

Thanks Tara! It’s Another We Scout Wednesday great topic.

Flowers at Haddam Neck Fair 2010I have talked often here about how we should all de-stuff ourselves. Get rid of everything and just stop the consumption train.

It’s no secret how I feel about that. I am the anti-packrat. At my house, if you leave your sh*t on the counter too long, I will bin it.

This is genetic and has to do with a odd chromosomal defect in my sentimentality gene, passed down from my mom’s side of the family.

It’s not a universal defect. It might even be often canceled out by an overwhelming melancholy, inherited from my dad’s side of the family. So that when I pause to examine plastic detritus of modern life, I always find I am incurably sentimental about the things I love.

I loved my white stuffed seal named Wendell from Sea World that must have gotten stolen from the back of the truck when I was moving out of college. I loved the leather handmade purse I bought at the Mountain Fair in Carbondale, CO. I loved MY bed in my bright blue eastern bedroom in my house on Wyoming in Kansas City. And  my 1993 5-speed Mazda Protege that I paid for myself that sat in my driveway there.

I loved, most of all, the porch swing where I could survey my corner of the world. All forts should be held down whilst swaying and drinking a beer.

We Are What We Keep

It isn’t exactly the things themselves I love, I suppose. It’s the relationship I have with them. A bed. A car. A house. Items of my own that symbolize what I made of myself. A purse that carried a part of my identity: a conviction for local and handmade– before I realized I even felt it that deeply. A stuffed animal that traveled miles with me, across states of the country and of being– from childhood, to adulthood.

The things I love seem to carry snapshots of me with them, the work and the effort I made in those parts of life. In someways, they pulse with my life. I think that is why I feel compelled to find souvenirs. I love to meander through gift shops and fairs when I travel, to located the one small thing to bring home that might transport me again, not just to Amsterdam or Egypt, but to who I was in that slice of time.

Taking photos often appeases my desire to consume things– I can snap up the essence of a place or a thing without having to cart it home and dust it. When I forget what that particular image meant, now the digital media lets me delete it. And the happy side effect is that as I get better at taking photos, the images themselves sometimes become a thing I love.

Like the photo posted here. We were at the Haddam Neck Fair on Labor Day when I snapped this photo using Hipstamatic. It captured a moment in time at the fair, but also an image of things loved— the efforts those who worked hard to display their flowers at the agricultural fair.

A thing we love is just stuff, but it is also the sum of all the meaning we give it. Which means sometimes it’s easy to trash the dying flower on the counter. And other times it means holding on for a bit . Or even longer.

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