Tuesday, March 10, 2015
"It is a fool's life"
One of the dozen mundane tasks that made Monday a sort of teeth-gritted, "Thirty-plus-years-of-doing-this-shit-and-here-I-am" kind of day, was tossing out all the brochures, catalogues, business cards—except for the one for the really cool story I'm going to follow up on—from my visit to the Housewares Show Saturday. Been there, done that.
Tossing out the samples was a little harder. Even though my wife had spurned the Click & Carry, it was a solid piece of well-poured plastic, a rich aqua, with a rubberized section to be kinder to your fingers. Somebody's dream made tangible. The Puritan father in me thought, "This could come in handy..."
How? Should I tuck it into the back of the van, to rattle around with the flares we've never used and the mass of cloth bags because we're all so flippin' environmental?
It hit the copy of Home Furnishing News with a "whap."
That felt right. They should teach classes in throwing stuff out. We should practice, because eventually we're going to have to get good at it. My wife had a master class, in shutting down her parents home after her mother died. We both did, regarding all the material that two marketly unmaterialistic people had acquired. Nine roasters. Or was it 11? Or 13? Anyway, a lot of black enamel roasters with white specks. More than a human should have.
As if the hoarder TV shows aren't warning enough. Pitch stuff. I'm going to take time off work to spring clean this year, because I don't think I've done it right for about five years.
Henry Thoreau had it right. You don't own stuff, stuff owns you.
Standing up with a groan, and over to the bookshelf. Books are different. You need those.
"The better part of the man is soon ploughed into the soil for compost," Thoreau writes, in Walden. "By a seeming fate, commonly called necessity, they are employed, as it says in an old book, laying up treasures which moth and rust will corrupt and thieves break through and steal. It is a fool's life, as they will find when they get to the end of it, if not before."
To which I will add two observations. One, Thoreau's father owned a pencil factory. Thoreau's disdain for possessions was built on possessions, and connected pals like Emerson, who loaned him the axe he needed to build his cabin at Walden Pond which, Two, was not an organic expression of his desire to live simply, but a book stunt, just like the book stunts today where people read the phone book and date 100 strangers and such. It was designed to build the Thoreau brand, and it pretty much failed—he had to fall back on those pencils, thought at the time to be the best in America.
Not to slag Thoreau. The man could turn a phrase, and it takes the mind of a charlatan welded to the heart of a saint to get through life sometimes. And it helps to throw stuff out when you can. You never miss it.