Thursday, August 13, 2015
the mystery of personal possessions
that ruthless mood, it came over me again. in three days i threw out four pickups loads of stuff, much of it accumulated over half a lifetime: knick-knacks, books i knew i'd never read, even beautiful clothes i'd become too shy to wear. it was savage, an assault on my storage space, cottage, and old magazines at the lookout.
this morning, back at the tower, i felt a sense of loss, for a moment. i'd kept a lot of stuff thinking it might be of interest to some researcher someday when i became posthumously famous. hah! my friend peter has a whole studio of art-work he's done, large illustrations for Moby Dick and Tin Drum, wild pictures for a bestiary, stacks of large workbooks full of outstanding nudes. he's older than i, and where will it all go? probably into the garbage-can.
maybe we human beings are simply too creative, plastic bags covering the earth, the sky full of junked satellites. the tool-maker outpaces the refuse collector and the latter doesn't know what to do with crumbling cars and Styrofoam earplugs. i'm still in a quandary, as i saved twenty boxes of personal pictures and papers. it's hard to let go of the illusion they might mean something. after all, i've digitized a lot of finished work (and unfinished).
do i still believe in the exoticism of the handwritten? yes, my definition of human beings fits this conjecture: an animal species using language to accumulate energy. the ancestor who wrote in the sand: this too shall pass, is my hero. then why do i insist in holding onto a temple bell, my ukelele, the bright indian bag to hang on the wall? do i need these things to confirm my identity as long as i'm walking upright?
i am convinced consumerism and its satisfying therapy (until i take it home and it loses its shine) trying to buy an individual identity in a vastly over-populated human world. and its an instinct. for example, my youngest sister when being adopted out of the german orphanage fiercely protected anything my parents gave her, especially a comic book. and look, a city will surround itself with landmines to secure its grocery stores.
all this frenzied activity set off when a friend said she couldn't take care of my will and pull the plug for me if necessary. i really don't look forward to being a vegetable, even if i didn't know i was. i did realize i had too many meaningless possessions. simplify, simplify, shouted thoreau from the treetops. and if i've learned anything, i've learned he's right.
i suppose i should give myself a lesson in how to have an identity without possessions, yet i think it's really difficult. i guess i have to tell myself: make them small, nothing i have to feed or take care of. too many friends have lost children early to have that be a secure option. i've been very reluctant to gain a sense of self from others. alas, i can't say i've succeeded. i've always needed friends.