I found this brake pad along my first walkabout since current events made life weird. I picked it up with gloves to feel its weight. This is a neglected object I most surely would have taken home with me years ago… It, along with a take-one-leave-one book kiosk or free library, reminded me that it’s up to us to decide how we want to control our hoarding tendencies or even how we live our lives.
What would I have done with this brake pad years ago?
The same as what I would have done with it yesterday if I brought it home with me to the apartment-mansion. I would have looked it over for, maybe, a minute, if it was lucky, then I would have put it away somewhere. If it was lucky, it would be somewhere I could find it, otherwise, it would sit stowed away as part of some well-intended but horribly executed attempt at collecting. It has no meaning to me other than that it is an object of our reality. I don’t work on cars. I am not a car enthusiast. When I’ve gone to car shows in the past, I’ve enjoyed them for aesthetic or documentary reasons, but not for a love of the craft.
What if I did love automobiles? Would I have taken it home then?
That’s where the free library example rests counterpoint. While I wouldn’t say I love books or love reading books or love reading, I love the experience of having learned new things through the reading process. It’s that sort of feeling that had once compelled me to acquire many more books than I’ll ever have time or energy or inclination to ever read. Even with a small shelf of two-dozen books, including one I acquired from a free library – Underground by Murakami, my question is when will I ever read it or any of the other hundreds of books I want to read?
That’s where it’s important to access our lives and how we spend our time.
If I spend less than 30 minutes per week reading, that will get me through far fewer books than if I spent 30 hours per week reading. It’s obvious to say, yes, but the reason for that is to establish a baseline thought before continuing. If I spent 30 minutes arguing with someone online, that takes away from that 30 minutes, or 30 hours, of reading time. If we clutter our calendars – in the sense that if you were to be honest with yourself and track your previous days on a calendar to 15- or 30-minute precision – then we could see where we can free up more time to do what we actually want to do in life.
I want to literally read more books and metaphorically collect fewer brake pads.
Let’s explore that thought. When I talk about the metaphorical aspects of collecting, I mean everything about objects. There’s the time spent looking for or finding an object, whether stumbling across some random artifact of someone’s hobby or even going searching for another item to add to my hobby’s collection. There’s the time spent purchasing the item, whether through the purchasing process or the amount of effort I had previously invested in acquiring the money. There’s the space the object will take up, both in my calendar as I decide whether it’s worth owning and physically where the object will reside. All of those aspects and more can be summarized with the question: Do I really want this object or do I just admire how it looks?
Rather than taking the object, I took the photo then moved on.
I might then use the analogy of flowers, here, where if we pluck a flower planted in someone’s garden, or under no one’s possession like that brake pad, we will kill the flower and it will wilt shortly thereafter. If the flower were in a vase, pre-planted, we could justify acquiring it. But then there’s the matter of dedicating the time in our lives to watering and caring for flowers, whether literal or metaphorically, and then the question becomes how much do you care? If tending to flowers is your primary or even a tertiary hobby, go for it. If not, then like this brake pad or the many books I can acquire but choose not to anymore, then it’s fine to leave things for someone else.
When I was younger, I would always take home random junk from my walkabouts.
Even when I was an adult, I enjoyed letting the “Need For Trophies” get the better of me while I was out, exploring, as I almost did here. Ostensibly, I thought I was salvaging some of these objects, and maybe sure, but the idea of controlling an object’s fate for its own sake rather than acquiring it for my own fascination was probably what led me to hoard so many objects. I must have thought, in previous years, that I was saving objects like this brake pad, whether for a future art project or just as something to admire later.
I can think of something that the object could be used for… if I were inclined.
Near the free library, where, were, there anything I wanted to read I would return to leave one or a few books of my own, were painted stones by kids. They were painted simply and left at the bottoms of some mailboxes in a specific cluster of houses. They could have fun painting on a large canvas like that… But then the question becomes how much effort is worth putting into “salvaging” that brake pad? I don’t feel any desire to want to try to get that over to them. It’d be weird and they probably wouldn’t care. Instead, it might be safest there, off to the side of the road so it doesn’t puncture any tire or trip any unsuspecting walker.
This brake pad might have already been salvaged and restored through being a casual topic of meandering meditation.
|Sources: My personal experiences.|
|Inspirations: I was so struck by this object that I wanted to write about it. This is a much better fate for it than me owning it and having it neglected here, because then I would disdain the space it took up and want to get rid of it. I’ve, then, saved space and time.|
|Related: Other Downsizing Zeal essays.|
|Photo: The third photo. I’d already picked it up and brushed off a little bit of nature.|
|Written On: 2020 April 27 [7:11am to 7:57am]|
|Last Edited: 2020 April 27 [First draft; final draft for the Internet.]|