Saturday, June 9, 2012

Reflections on Saturday and Stuff

Today is Saturday and I have absolutely nothing mandatory on my schedule.  Oh, of course, I have to get up and drink coffee (or suffer the wrath of a caffeine headache), do basic dog maintenance (or I'll have a "pick up" to do later in the day, if you catch my drift...and trust me when I tell you that you really don't want to) and feed myself at some point in time.  Getting dressed, doing anything productive, and mailing that eBay package to someone who ordered a dress I've had on there for three cycles at the "buy it now" price (for some inexplicable reason...when she could have saved $5 by waiting 48 hours) are all discretionary.

I love days like today.

Jill is in her own domain...which means "not here"...and Brian will be out of the house all day in Birmingham.  Big Dave is off doing something to earn money...which I wholeheartedly support...and I'm perfectly fine if he just does that all day.

Of course, if you know must also know that I have a to-do list that is somewhere between "exhausting" and "unattainable" - so I will no doubt either feel the pangs of guilt for not succumbing to its siren call or will frustrate myself to no end by doing three things on a list with something like 35 items. 

Except I'm not going to do that.  Not today. 

Years ago, when some sitcom or movie wanted to depict this internal argument...they would put a little angel on one shoulder of a person and a little devil on the other.  The angel would try to guide the person toward his or her highest good and the devil would be trying to drag the person down or to appeal to that base inner nature.

This really hasn't been my problem, though.  My inner struggle is actually more like this.

Except imagine that the monkeys are real.

Ah, that's more like it.

Sometimes you need some time to just shut everything down and expect nothing from yourself.  I don't mean entertain yourself into oblivion with an all day marathon of Season 2 of Downton Abbey (been there, done that...and so should you if you haven't seen this fabulous series) or make lists about what you are going to do instead of actually getting about doing it.  I'm talking about just vacating your life long enough to figure out what is really important to you...and letting the rest of it pretty much fall as it may.  Or taking a small step by committing to do one small task in the hopes that this will encourage you to move to the next and the next and so on.

In other words, find a way to stop the maintenance of the stuff you couldn't care less about while the stuff that you do actually care about sits unattended and decaying...or unused.  To me...this is really an issue because we are supposed to be the managers of everything that we are given.  The problem occurs when we fail to realize that taking something to Goodwill, Plato's Closet, a secondhand shop, eBay or the charity of your choice is actually being a good manager.  It puts the item back in the system for someone who may have been praying for what you have been lamenting about being in your closet.

I had the experience a week ago of going through all of what I own with my daughter to see if there were some things that she would like to have for herself as she set up housekeeping on her own.  Among those were items that have - no lie - sat in drawers for years...and in some cases decades...unattended and unused.  Among those were some items that I received from my grandmother's house and one of the two china patterns that I picked out in 1985 when I was a blushing (and way thinner) bride.  In case, you (like me) are too lazy to do the math...that china is 27 years old.  I ate off of it for probably the third time EVER last week when I went to visit her new home.

Which I thought totally rocked, by the way.  The fact that she is actually using it.

I think that there is so much "stuff" in this house that needs to go somewhere other than here.  Did I really need two china patterns in 1985?  No.  But it was then (and I believe it is now) the tradition to have a formal and everyday china pattern.  For me, it actually made no sense in that when I entertain a lot of people...I pretty much break out the Chinet (I know...classy) or some plates that I purchased at Pier One for three dollars each.  I do actually use my Christmas china...but obviously only for about five or six weeks of the 52 each year. 

This whole business of my china is incredibly wasteful, yes?


Yes it is.

I tend to be a minimalist in some matters (like wardrobe) and then I tend to be a little bit on the "Hoarders" side about others (huge tin pans that are perfectly good that catering comes in that I can save for tailgating/big functions).  I suppose that everybody is like that.  But just imagine having a home where anything that doesn't make your heart sing doesn't live there.  Where the gosh-awful, last-leg, avacado green/harvest gold/brown has been forwarded to Goodwill (or eBay) and the never-used, worn, or purposed has been parted with instead of routinely dusted every Saturday (or every month...whatever). 

I would call that place nirvana.

For most of us, the stuff that we acquire falls into one of three camps: we love it and we saved up for it and we will refuse to part with it, we inherited it and we can't get rid of it without hurting the feelings of the giver or break the chain of generational "passing" or the most insidious...because we bought it at Fred's in 1983 and it is still good.  What we really need is a fourth camp called "because I love it and use it" instead.

I still have wedding presents that are functional (yes, a toaster from 1985 is still operable...and because it was stainless and black is still attractive now) and some doves that live in a curio cabinet (that used to be a china cabinet that some relative at least three generations back owned).  Yet, I also have some Norman Rockwell mugs that are pretty but I honestly don't know what to do with anymore.

Yes.  These.  (Some dude on Etsy has decided to liquidate his for $27.  Well played, sir.)

Anyway, sometimes I just wish that life were a little simpler...that there was less to manage (and dust) and that I could just clear out some of the items that prevent my home from looking like my personal vision of a Southern Living house.  Of course, my complete and total lack of decorating ability might be more responsible for that than this stuff I trip over, but whatever.  (I have taste...I just have no style.  There's a difference.)

But back to my Saturday and how I will be investing it.  I use the term "investing" because time really is a currency that you have at your fingertips that you can choose to squander or choose to reap a reward.  You know..."time is money" and all that.  Today, I just want to go in Jill's room and triage that which has been left behind.  Because if truth be told...what is here (with one exception) is probably not going away anytime soon.  Possibly ever.  Unless, of course, I direct it out my door.

So many of us have things that we no longer own...but are under the illusion that we do.  If we are having to pay the proprietors of a storage facility, cannot use a room in our house because it is the catch-all for anything and everything, or if we don't dare brave our attics or garages because it is pretty much an "Abandon Hope All Ye Who Enter Here" situation...well our "stuff" owns us.

Time to flip the script.  Past time, I suspect.

There are many, many things that I'd like to do with this beautiful (but hopefully about to rain because I'm too lazy to go water my garden) Saturday.  I'd love to be productive, but I'd also love to just sit and enjoy some of it without feeling guilty.  I thought I'd do four hours of work and whatever gets done...gets done.  The rest of the day is for myself.

I'll let you know how that works out. 

Perhaps I can get one of the monkeys off of my back...and possibly more than one.  But even if I am not able to accomplish it today...I'll take the bonus points for recognizing that the time has come. 

(I'm a first child who has a thing for gold stars and bonus points.  Yes.  Yes, I do.)

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