A Sideways Glare at Contemporary Society
I’m getting overwhelmed by my stuff. Not the regular stuff, like tables and chairs or the fridge or the microwave, but all the bits and bobs that have accumulated in my life without my knowledge. The stuff that showed up one day and just never went away. The second letter opener hiding in my desk, the plastic container shaped like an Oreo cookie, the Lake Wobegon cup, the book of British Hallmarks that’s two millimetres too tall for the shelf, and on and on. This isn’t stuff I need, or stuff I even ever wanted; it’s just stuff that belongs to me. And it’s all good stuff. It isn’t broken or anything — or useless — like those electronic cables to nowhere neatly wrapped and arranged in the bottom drawer of my file cabinet. These are perfectly good inanimate objects that I just don’t know what to do with. However, there are some options;
1 — I could just throw the junk away. Not likely! I grew up in a time when tossing useful things in the trash just because you didn’t want them anymore was a mortal sin — one that no amount of Hail Marys could cleanse. ( And believe me, the last thing I need is another sin on my soul.)
2 — I could recycle everything. Unfortunately, I’ve always been sceptical about our contemporary out-of-sight/problem-solved approach to unwanted items. Nobody has ever successfully explained to me what happens to things after they get “recycled.” Personally, I think “recyclable” is just a feel-good word for trash that doesn’t smell.
3 — I could donate it all to charity. Good luck with that! I have a feeling there aren’t many poor people who really need or even want a set of My Little Pony shot glasses (Don’t ask!) So the fact is any charity I choose would probably only end up being a halfway house on the way to the landfill.
4 — I could pack it all in boxes, stash the boxes in the back of the closet, never speak of it again and hope the executors of my will don’t curse me for the coward I am, as they’re carting the crap off to the dump.
5 — I could just move the stuff around so it looks different and hope I can fool myself into thinking I’ve actually made an effort to finally take care of the situation.
Sounds good. Problem solved!