I just watched the trash guys take an item I’ve had for many years.
I don’t like shopping and I discard fairly easily when a thing is no longer relevant, but now and then there’ll be an item that’s not so simple. These are the times that have taught me to empathize with people struggling to let go of stuff.
It was an art piece of sorts: a black grid about 5 feet square, divided into 25 sections like a giant piece of graph paper. It was built as a store window display and I asked the designer to let me have it when they were done with it. It was made of wood but fairly lightweight and I hung it on various walls in my various homes over the last 10 or 15 years. I perched framed photos in its cubbies. It was cool.
But these days I’m more drawn to less. I’ve always preferred clear counters and not much stuff out in sight, but seeing how my clients are so burdened with objects has nurtured my tendency toward minimalism. Even in art, I’m finding that I want to have fewer pieces–things I really love–and not so many tchochkes.
I surprised myself when I realized I wanted to let my black grid go. I still felt fond of it, but at the same time I acknowledged that I didn’t need to keep the object to keep the memory. I haven’t hung pictures in it for many years; it was a neat visual effect but way too much dusting. Lately it’s been hanging on the wall with nothing in it.
It spent last night at the curb, propped against the trash can. (I’m kinda glad it didn’t rain.)
At my desk this morning, I heard the trash truck coming, and I debated whether to watch, then dashed to the window. Here are the thoughts that went through my mind:
We’re next…. Here comes the trash guy / ah, he’s got it / oh look, he’s handling it nicely / oh wait, not totally nicely, he kinda threw it into the truck instead of setting it there, but of course he did, it’s trash….
Ok, he’s putting bags on top of it, um … there goes the truck, ooh I can see it! it looks kinda happy, I hope it’s not sad / stop it Debbie that’s anthropomorphizing and you know it doesn’t have feelings / ok, right, it doesn’t, but what about the artist? would he be hurt to know I threw away his art? / no, it was a basic prop for a window display, it was more functional than artistic, and he sold it to you for $25 and he’s probably made hundreds more since then, it only seems special because it was special to you.
It only seems special because it was special to you … that’s a great way to say it … gotta remember to share that with clients….
Look, they stopped at the neighbor’s and here comes the crusher thing … wow, I heard that side piece snap / well, now (it’s too late) it will compost and return to its original state … that’s natural, that’s good, maybe it’s happy to do that / stop it it’s not happy it doesn’t have feelings / right, I know, the feelings are mine…am I happy? yes, mostly…
Do I have a picture of it? … eh, probably somewhere, doesn’t really matter if I don’t. I’ll remember it.
Goofy happy memories … I was so dazzled when I first saw it, and so invested in having it, I carried it up in the elevator to my cubicle, carried it down and onto the shuttle bus to my car, into my car and into my home / I bonded with it, maybe because I worked so hard to have it, worked in a carrying way not in a paying-for way … LOL the things twentysomethings will do …
Can’t see the truck any more … am I happy? right decision? yes … it was a fun background for many years of my life and it wasn’t serving me in that way anymore, so this was right. Because objects should serve people and not the other way around–this I know. Yes, pretty sure I’m happy…. It was just a thing, and the best part is the memories that I obviously still have, look how they came to mind so easily. So yes … happy.
As I write this, I can look to my left and see the wall where the grid was. There’s nothing there, but it doesn’t look empty. It’s a lovely, clear space to gaze into, and it makes the remaining art piece in the center of the wall that much more prominent.
I like it. Happy.