One day, not so long ago, hubby found me sobbing in bed.
– What’s wrong?
What could I tell him? – that I was angry at the flannel sheets, scratchy and pilling after only one season, the sun ravaged drying rack, plastic, snapping apart in my fingers, the month old tshirt with tiny holes in it.
Devastated by yet another betrayal, another promise broken. It lies to me, my stuff. It tells me it will do better this time. That it will last. That it will help me out and not break my heart. Not this time.
I know it’s not true.
I know nothing lasts.
I know you can’t buy happiness.
I know nothing (nothing!) is ever quite as you imagined it would be.
I know that the best moment, the most exciting, happy moment, is the moment between deciding to buy something and actually owning it (pure potential, possessed).
I know that the only problem you have in not having something is not having it. No printer? Can’t print. Have to go somewhere to print. That’s a nuisance.
Once you have it, the problems multiply….
The printer needs toner. The printer needs paper. Where should the paper live? The printer needs a place to sit, and a power outlet. Have to rearrange the desk. The paper jams. (Printers are either good with ink, or good with paper – never both). Try again. Sometimes it works. Sometimes it prints garbled nonsense. Needs more ink. It doesn’t print your ticket but the computer says it did (lost $40 this way once). This one doesn’t do a very good job on photos. Maybe this paper would be better. No, the photos still fade. Needs more toner. Why don’t they sell our toner here? Which place has it? Maybe I need a better printer, a different printer…
And then, when it has reached the end of its short life, the responsibility of choosing its final resting place is a terrible burden. Should it be trashed? recycled? can it be composted? made into something else? is it still pretty good? would someone else want it? who? would they understand its significance? would they even know what it is? would they really love it, or would it end up in their trash instead of mine? St Vinnie’s or Value Village? where should I keep it until I can pass it on?
I feel the worst about the little things. Like socks. Sometimes I end up with (get given) cute socks. They’re cute. They not terribly comfortable, and I’m not really all that keen on socks, but I wear them a few times. I already have enough socks – ones that I like. So I don’t really wear the cute socks. And then what? What do you do with socks that you’ve worn, but not worn out? Who wants worn socks? They either have to stay, and I have to put up with them, or they go in the trash. Utterly wasted. The materials, the water, the gas, the time, the packaging… all the things we don’t see that went into those little socks. Wasted.
Sometimes I feel like I’m being pulled apart.
The minimalist in me doesn’t want to have things that aren’t being used and loved. If it doesn’t work, if I don’t love it, then out it goes to someone who can maximize it’s value (but where should I put it right now…?)
The environmentally concerned me doesn’t want to waste and is disgusted by the amount of trash we produce, even if it’s a fraction of what some people put out every week. But the flow of things coming in can’t be stemmed. I don’t know where it all comes from…
The crafter sees raw materials, but the minimalist doesn’t want to store them unless they’re really going to get used. Is this crafting really how I want to spend my time, instead of reading, writing, picture making?
And the practical side of me wonders what I would do with another cute whatsit made by crafty-me… She tells me I need to make a choice now. Stop procrastinating. Do something.
What I want, all I really want, is to have enough of what I need, and a little of what I want.
And I want my stuff to work. To do what it says it will. To last.
And when its done, when it falls apart (as all things do, in the end) I want to be able to dispose of it without worrying that I’m destroying the earth that sustains us. If it has to go to waste, at least let it feed some microbes and return its energy to the soil. Is that too much to ask?