It’s All Just Stuff

"Antique" shop, Tallulah, Louisiana

"Antique" shop, Tallulah, Louisiana (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A blog-pal of mine, Kana Tyler ( wrote recently on “The Curious Significance of STUFF.”  It’s a blog worth reading, so I recommend you check it out.  (In fact, a good deal of what Kana writes about is worth reading.  She’s had a life full of bumps, thumps, and victories.)  Anyway, in the blog Kana speaks to the human propensity to collect and, let’s face it, we all do it.  I’ll bet any one of you has at least one drawer or cabinet or box stuffed with, well, stuff — things you’ve collected over the years on trips; items you simply “had to have” and then never looked at again (or realized you didn’t need once you got it home, but didn’t have the energy to bother returning it); temporary whims purchased on the fly; things handed down or given to you by someone you care about who you don’t want to insult by getting rid of it, but a thing you’d never, ever have purchased on your own unless whanged out on drugs or alcohol (or a bout of temporary insanity).

Kana took a stroll through her home, wondering what she would want saved if, say, the place was on fire and she knew that all the people and animals were okay.  That made me curious as to what I might want saved or what I might pare my possessions down to if, say, Hubby were to come home tomorrow and tell me we’re moving to Scotland.    This is what I came up with:

Not a lot.

A couple of things stand out.  My writing stuff, for one.  That means my computer, copies of stories I’ve written, the bits of stories I’m working on.  (It makes my brain ache to think of losing all that.)  And there’s a piece of pottery my husband bought for me back when I finished the first draft of “Weathercock.”  We found it in a gallery in Portland, Oregon.  It’s a clay rattle shaped like a seal and is so evocative of my seal-folk that I near about cried when I saw it.  (Hubby surprised me with it at Christmas.)  Other than that…not much.

Don’t get me wrong, I own many things of which I’m enormously fond and which I would mourn if they were lost forever.  There’s some wonderful artwork from my handful of artist friends, one-of-a-kind stuff that cannot be replaced.  There’s a veritable shitload of photo albums stuffed with pictures take back before the digital years, my darlings, that span my life and my husband’s, vignettes of life that also could not be replaced.  Still, when you think about it, sooner or later it will be gone (or I’ll be gone, which pretty much amounts to the same thing) and what difference will it make?  I have memories of the things I’ve held and loved, and that’s nearly as nice as having the real thing.  And if, by some perverted twist of Fate, I should go down the road of dementia that is slowly consuming my mother, well, I won’t know I’ve lost those memories, will I?

When it comes right down to it, my head just keeps telling me it’s only stuff, it’s not important.  What’s important are those around me and what I carry in my heart.  Yeah, yeah, I’m aware that I sound a bit like a Hallmark commercial, but it’s true.  I cannot equate a desire to possess things with the presence of those I care about in my life.  That’s what’s precious to me…and the ability to get out and about in the world, to experience this place and what it holds.  Anything else is icing.


About Melissa Crandall

Longer ago than I care to admit--although I will--I cut my writing teeth on fanzines and media tie-in novels. Since then, I've moved on to narrative nonfiction, speculative fiction, and essays. I write to explore and understand the world around me, the things I see and experience nearby or from a distance. If I shake myself up, cool. If I shake you up, even better. Not gratuitously--what's the point in that?--but to set what I know, or think I know, on end and realize, "Well, doesn't it look different from this side!" My work is neither sexually explicit nor graphically violent. Let's face it - your imaginations will come up with things far worse than anything I could write, no matter how descriptive. Besides, it's just not my thing. I live in Connecticut with my supportive husband Ed, a cat named Ruby who might just think she's a dog, and an epileptic Australian shepherd named Holly who isn't quite certain anymore who she is, except she knows she loves her mommy.
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