Once again, I can see the top of my kitchen table. The counters are clean and the floor is also clear. It seems that everything worth while has found a place and I can put my finger on most anything that I have.
I spent the day sorting and cleaning. I was surprised how much cheering I received from friends who stated that they also need to do what I was doing. It appears that everyone accumulates ‘stuff’ and few find the time to really sort through it all and keep it organized.
I actually enjoyed the process. It was a quiet time for me and gave me a chance to think and reflect about many things.
Some of the items I decided not to part with. For reasons that were even sometimes unknown to me, I had the need to hold on to them ‘just in case’ I wanted to display them one day. They may have had a story behind them, or some emotional tie that I just wasn’t ready to let go of yet. So I decided to keep them. I tried to keep those to a minimum however, as before long the ‘keep’ pile was beginning to grow larger than the ‘give’ pile and I realized that I would once again find myself in the position in which I began – with an over abundance of things and no place to put them. I needed to keep reminding myself “if I want or need it, I can always make it again.”
What is it about the need to have ‘stuff’?
We hear about those who have grown up in the depression and have been through difficult times, and now they tend to hoard things, as if there would come a time again when they would be in need. Is that part of human nature?
A couple of years ago, I needed Worcestershire sauce for some cooking that I was doing. Much to my dismay, I only had a drop and was unable to complete the recipe properly. As a result of that, within the next couple of weeks, I replaced the empty bottle not once, but twice. I did not do this on purpose, but ‘not having’ something must have triggered something in my brain to get it the next time I was at the store – even though it is an ingredient that I seldom use, and a bottle seems to last me for years. My disappointment of not having it when I needed it must have affected me to such an extent that I purchased some not only the next time that I was at the grocery store, but also clouded my mind so much that I purchased another bottle a second time in the visit after that.
It may seem silly, but I believe that ‘fear of not having things’ is powerful stuff. I also think it is a driving force behind why many people are so afraid to let go of things in the first place. The “What if I need it’s” are hard to ignore – especially in difficult times when so many are struggling.
But in this moment in my life, I do feel very comfortable with what I have. Even though I have been through some difficult times myself – as recently as a few years ago – I have learned that much of the ‘things’ that I had were not necessary in the first place. As I get older, I find that I want very little and that I find comfort in the simplicity that I live my life right now. I need certain things to keep designing and doing my job, and of course, I need my art supplies in order to create, but ‘not having’ is no longer a curse to me, and can even be viewed on as a blessing in many cases.
When shopping for Christmas gifts a couple of weeks ago when Keith and I went to the city, we went through store after store which had wonderfully magical Christmas displays and decorations. Seeing these displays was a delight for our senses, as was the hotel the other night. It would have been easy to indulge and purchase many items to make our little place here our own personal Winter Wonderland. But for what reason? What purpose would buying thing after thing be when we didn’t have room for what we already have? It was then when I noticed that I am beginning to look differently at things and much prefer to keep things simple.
When looking closer at what was available, I realize that much of it is mass-produced and cheap. If it lasted more than a season or two it would be a miracle in itself. Why then, would I want to accumulate more things only to have them wind up in a landfill in the next year or two?
So I decided to give gifts which had a bit more meaning and usefulness this year. Things that were made with care and would be (hopefully) appreciated for that reason. The gift certificate for Bernie and Ellen, who have everything they could ever really need. A heated blanket for my daughter, who lives in a place where the heat is costly and appreciates a warm bed (yes – I already had it sent to her, as she needed it now and I thought it would be foolish to wait) and some fine, pure hand-made soaps from my friend in Pennsylvania (we know her on Lumberjocks as Rivergirl). These are gifts that will be used and appreciated. And most of them will help local artisans and establishments such as the hotel and Kelly by keeping them working. And of course, the hand made woodworking and painted items.
I apologize for getting off on a tangent, but my point was that what allowed me to part with so many of my wood and painted creations was not only knowing that they would go to a place where it would be appreciated, but also that the money it will bring is much needed and will help the community. As I said yesterday, it is a win/win.
So I decorated my little tree for the holiday season yesterday. Most of the ornaments I put on it were my own. There were some that were received from others in exchanges from this year and past, and I cherish them for the time and care in which they were made.
While we may not have our place adorned end to end with holiday decorations, there are enough things around to remind us of the season.
Many times I am asked why I keep my tree up all year, and why go to the trouble to decorate it for the different seasons. I suppose the reason is that for me is that it celebrates not only one season or holiday or religion, but our lives in general. No matter which religion we choose, or even if we choose none at all, it is a reminder to me that each day should be appreciated. And each day we should practice kindness, tolerance, compassion and understanding towards each other.
We don’t need a holiday for that.
Have a wonderful weekend.
-- Designer/Artist/Teacher. Owner of Sheila Landry Designs (http://www.sheilalandrydesigns.com) Scroll saw, wood working and painting patterns and surfaces. "Knowledge is Power"