All while we’re pressured to keep and reuse what we can, my neighborhood continues to slough off any unwanted items. Plenty of pickers have been roaming the streets taking what they wish from the piles. There’s a nice symmetry to some of it.
Tag Archives: discard
Instead of blogging in the past week, I’ve been commuting to my office and preparing for the new semester that is fast coming upon us. This week I witnessed a woman spreading out ads all around her on the bus, possibly sorting, but possibly demonstrating her need for stuff to surround her wherever she goes.
Around the same time I was taking this picture, it was announced that there are an estimated 1 million (plus) hoarders here in Australia, which falls in line with estimates in the US, around 4.5% of the total population. It’s not much of a surprise to me, but hoarding still isn’t as popular a topic on this side of the world.
As I watch popular children’s programing here with my daughter, though, I can see how we are constantly guilted into not wasting material objects. Just a small example, there’s an Aussie-Canadian program called Dirt Girl World with one of the main characters Scrap Boy. It’s all about repurposing stuff. How can we let go of anything when there might be a use for it, or discarding it might hurt the nature around us?
American Pickers may be all the rage back home, but it isn’t any different on this side of the world. Last weekend we rode our bikes up the street we used to live on, and we noticed piles of discarded furniture and other bulky items lining the sidewalks. As we chugged up the great hill to a near halt, a small pickup truck (or ute as they’re called here) passed us, pulled over, and a man and his young son popped out. In the back they already had assorted fans and pieces of wood furniture. They grabbed a few more items, hopped back in the ute, and drove on.
I see no evidence that the city has arranged to pick up the remains during a “Fall Clean up,” and now it’s all been thoroughly rain soaked as it continues to meld into the curb.
When I was little girl and my family moved to Montana, my brother and I started spending hours collecting rocks on the foothill behind our house. We had an old coffee can and our main ambition was to find quartz and smokey quartz crystals to put in it. This entailed scanning the ground while we walked with sharp attention to detail. Any glimmer required some dirt scratching to see what treasure we’d unearthed. My brother also got into panning for gold and tumbling rocks. He was much more committed than I.
Years later, I still find myself staring at the ground for treasures as I walk along. S., now three years old, has inherited the
passion distraction. Yesterday we walked D. to the train station so he could catch a flight home to the U.S.. It was raining quite heavily, but S. and I plodded along, hand in hand, scanning the ground for treasures. She picked up little leaves and said, “It’s for my collection.” Or, “I’m collectin’ this for you, Mommy.” So far this week, in addition to numerous interesting leaves and flowers we would never see in Kansas, we’ve seen some possum poo, interesting skinks, and very speedy caterpillars scooting down the hill in the rain.
S. and I glued our collected leaves (but not the poo, bugs or skinks) to a piece of scrap cardboard. We showed it to D. and it went into the recycling bin a few days later. I love seeing beauty in the little things, but need I worry about S’s new fascination with collecting every pretty little flower or seed she finds on the ground? Each one she drops, she shrieks, “Oh! My flower!” and I try to brush it off so she won’t keep thinking about what was lost. In the meantime, yesterday, I told D. I really still wanted to find my umbrella that I last saw in Florida in 2010.
Collecting is a fun activity. I just need to keep working on the letting go part of it.
Having just watched Toy Story again with S. and just given her another Happy Meal toy over the weekend, the following post which I discovered thanks to ifiwereahoarder.com rings only too true. Derek Boik writes “Teaching our kids to hoard (and making them feel bad about it),” analyzing the progression in the Toy Story series from cute life imbued toys, to collector’s items, to discarded pieces for whom we mourn. How are we supposed to let anything go when it has feelings, life, purpose, and needs us to exist? Boik’s title just needs to be tweaked to “making them feel bad if they don’t.”
Sadie just left for her new life on a country farm. We’ve had ample time to prepare for her departure, and because she’s visited the farm several times already, we know she’s happy there. All of this preparation makes her absence much less sad than it could have been. Letting something I’ve loved for a long time go to a better home is OK. Besides, in my mind, Sadie will live happily ever after. I will never have to suffer those days of watching her in pain or the agony of deciding to put her down.
While I’m able to let go on this point, I still hold on to ridiculous pieces of someone’s past, not sure where to file them. These two photographs were tucked inside of a rare book by Marie Cardinal that I picked up at a flea market in Lausanne, Switzerland. I have held on to them for the past ten years, not knowing who the woman is, but imagining she looks something like Cardinal. I’ve studied the pictures over the years and tucked them back in the book again, forgetting they exist. It’s almost as though I’m the guardian of someone else’s memory, a memory now vacant of meaning and waiting for my story to transpose itself there. Will my new photo replace the paper copies making the meaning now mine? Am I the new home for this adopted memory, a better place for the image to live on? Or is it now up to me to decide if the photos should be discarded, laid to rest, put down and out of their misery?