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.