The Sticky Fingers of Things

The Sticky Fingers of Things

Over the past year, I have started to feel so encumbered by things that I feel like they are choking me.  Even my art-filled and carefully arranged house, which I love, has started to make me feel like I’m trapped in one of my own collages.

I once wrote that I like to do assemblage because it is an arrangement that is glued down so other people can’t rearrange it, but recently I’ve begun to feel like one of those objects.  I just can’t get myself unpinned from my present life.  It is not that there is anything terribly wrong about it.  Just that I no longer have a feeling of freedom..

Recently, I was asked what I would save if my house were on fire and I could only save five things.  My answer would be an album of childhood pictures, an album of pictures from Africa and Australia, my computer and two backup drives.  Then I’d put them in storage, buy a new computer and go on another trip around the world with no planned itinerary and no planned start or stop dates.

Why can’t I do this on my own?  Who knows why we let ourselves be controlled by things? Maybe it is because we know we can’t take them with us and so we strive to get as much pleasure out of them as possible while we can.  Perhaps it is because we fear that without things, we ourselves are nothing.  Perhaps it is because we cannot see that the beauty is within ourselves.  Perhaps it is because we fear that others give us value simply because of the things around us.

I once heard my eleven-year-older sister tell someone that she liked to visit her younger sisters because they both had such interesting lives and friends.  I felt so sad that she hadn’t said that she loved to visit me because I, myself, was interesting and loved.  I think this has influenced my feeling for her ever since.

My sister is now in the stages of dementia where pretty much everything has been taken from her.  She no longer knows what most common objects are for, but my niece recently told me that she had been given a life-sized baby doll that she holds and rocks and talks to and that the other day she called it Judy. I guess she waited too long to express any feelings of love she might have felt for me. Now, she is seemingly expressing that love toward an object when all these years she could have been expressing it to the person who could have returned it.  Is this what I’m doing by refusing to surrender the objects that fill my life?  Maybe it is time to find out.

The Prompt:  What five objects would you \save from your burning house?

12 thoughts on “The Sticky Fingers of Things

  1. Laura L.

    With move after move I have HAD to give up things. At first pairing down was nice. Then, because it was forced, it wasn’t. Now, I’m living in a place not my own with only what I could cram into a small car. The rest of my furniture and belongings are 1000 miles away and I don’t know if I will ever see them or not. I’m telling you this because on one hand I’ve had your feelings of “too much, get thee gone” and then been on the flip side. If you can manage it, what I would suggest is get a storage unit, then really clean house. Throw out the crap. (There’s always crap.) Give away the almost crap. Then go as freaky Zen on the place as you want but put everything in storage. LIVE like that for a while. I’d suggest a year. See what you miss, if anything. You have the luxury of choice. I didn’t.


  2. Patti

    It’s interesting to me that you “unpinned” yourself from almost all your posssions when you moved to CA and again when you moved to Mexico. You may just be a seral nester!


  3. Tish Farrell

    There was a time when I walked out of my house and my belongings, and got on a plane to Africa with only a small grip and a carry-bag. It was very liberating. But I did not remember the lesson later in a new life. And so the stuff accumulates. It attracts dust, causes anxiety, causes frustration in the finding of things. Meanwhile, my aged mother in law has been disposing of stuff for the last 10 years, but then her house seems so homeless somehow. But you are right: it’s something we MUST attempt. We know we will feel better for it. I’ll get rid of something if you will…:)

    Liked by 1 person

  4. katespencer17

    Compelling post. I think you captured all the reasons we let things define or control us beautifully. Things in our homes only have the value we give them. Over the past few years (yes, it was a process) I gave away, threw out or replaced items that were weighing me down, making me feel sad, choking me every time I looked at them or cleaned them. It was tough to do as I had to overcome guilt if I threw something out – but I did. In the end, it was a renewing, re-energizing and liberating experience. Best wishes on your journey.


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  6. the dune mouse

    this is so poignant about your sister! My brother died (young) and so many things remained unsaid! I think I would save the same things you do along with perhaps a box of “relics” from those I have loved.


  7. Allenda Moriarty

    Very moving story, Judy. I know you have pondered your relationship with your sister for so many years. Exhausting, perplexing, unfathomable, she never makes it easy for you. I hope whatever conclusions you reach will be freeing and satisfy the core of your essence.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. rogershipp

    “I once wrote that I like to do assemblage because it is an arrangement that is glued down so other people can’t rearrange it, but recently I’ve begun to feel like one of those objects”

    Yes, that feeling is a awful feeling when you feel like “life” seems to be rooted “owned” by others.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. lifelessons Post author

      But in my case, since I’m not married and have no kids, I’m rooted by the seemingly impossibility of dealing with all the “things” in my life. And my two dogs. I always said I wouldn’t be held back by animals but now this seems to be true.


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