If we’re patient when waiting in line, sometimes, we can reflect on the actions we do. The person ahead of me in line to drop off donations had a sports-utility-vehicle filled with various boxes and furniture items. I had one humble box. Through pure coincidence, someone purchasing an item in line ahead of mine seemed to have a furniture item matching that donated item; except it was merely a generic item; it wasn’t the same.
I had an assortment of these containers growing up.
They’re searchable using the term ‘mini baseball helmet ice cream bowl.’ That’s how I first acquired one, from the gas station about a mile away from where I lived, and then many more. I’m not a sports fan. I might watch the occasional game if that’s the only entertainment option available when visiting with friends, and not quite feign interest, but try to understand the rules of the game until it gets too boring or too complicated. These items, then, do fill some of my memories with mostly upbeat sensations. I wouldn’t say that having them or owning them made my life more “complete,” as I don’t believe materialism is a factor of life’s “completeness.” These childhood objects are buried away in storage somewhere.
Do I need to collect more?
These aren’t questions I usually ask myself while I’m “in the moment” “on location” “at the scene.” I suspect that my old residence became as cluttered as it did for two main reasons. First, I never put away things. Second, I never checked in with myself about things like this. I still do this daily. Compulsively, I’ll find myself wanting to buy more than I need because it’s available. These containers filled a nice little spot in the thrifting hunt. I was disappointed that they didn’t have any interesting books, but those are significant time investments. Containers like these are cute and fill a more visceral spot than media because we can instantly interact with them, and I can pretend that these three ice cream containers were the ones I had when I was a kid.
They’re not my childhood objects and I have my childhood objects.
Even if I didn’t, what would be the value of buying these? Would I be saving these from destruction? When I worked at a thrift store, my job was destroying donations. These have a blue tag. Once the blue tag sale ends, they destroy most of the blue tag items. The clothing gets scrapped. I threw out perfectly functional dinnerware and objects that could have been donated to shelters or organizations that could reuse the items. I suppose it’s easier to write it off as a lump dump fee than continuing the downstream donation process.
I am not the keeper of these objects.
If another person stopped by directly after me, purchased them, and burned them for the laughs, then I would never know. Whether they were destroyed by the thrift store, burned by a potential or cherished new owner, that’s really not my business regarding the number of objects I could potentially collect. I still want my books, CDs, toys, and other things. I don’t need most of my childhood videogames, either because I can emulate them or I can watch videos or livestreams of people playing them. At the height of my hoarding tendencies, I would buy anything that caught my eye, regardless of its value to me. Those were the first items I donated, too.
I have some of those never-enjoyed objects seared into my memory.
I don’t want them back, but they remind me, as I slowly meander through thrift stores to soak in the materialism, that not everything there is a treasure to me. As the year comes to a close, I’ve been considering what my “theme” of the year 2021 would be, and I’ve decided that it should be the Year of Fourths, or, Force. It’s another way to phrase building intentionality into my life. With our container example, I force myself to slow down to consider what my relationship with this object was [why does this nostalgia excite me?] is [these are not my childhood objects – I still own them] or could be [how will I use this object?] to better determine whether buying something will be a good decision. I could, say, take four times as long to consider – given I’m not on a deadline.
I could also ask myself: If I were to need to downsize everything to one-fourth, what would go?
If I needed to remove three-fourths of my possessions, I suspect that these containers would go, along with any childhood memories that I could write about here and feel good enough about experiencing. As my mind explores that time, it explores the gas station as it was, and how I bought soft-serve ice cream to fill in the hat of the baseball teams that the container had emblazoned. There was nothing spectacular about that gas station. I even recall that I was about to gift these containers to a childhood friend before I was interrupted from doing so.
Why do we chase after what we chase after?
If it’s nostalgia, is it to recreate the most positive memories of our past? Is that because we feel a need to escape our current reality. Sure, it’s easy to get overwhelmed by current events, COVID-19, politics, and all of the pains of being an adult. I might be speaking from a place of privilege when I say that clutter is a problem. I understand the hubris implications, even if, for me, my intentions are closer to helping me overcome these sorts of ties that hold be back, and in writing them, perhaps help others. Maybe your ‘mini baseball helmet ice cream bowl’ is something different, but it’s still important to know whether that memory is a weight or something that will help you feel better when you’re feeling down.
I could keep one of those and effortlessly give the rest away.
|Sources: My personal experiences.|
|Inspirations: Exploring my thoughts as I went thrifting. What helps me focus while I’m at thrift stores or supermarkets is keeping a digital list – I use WriterP but there are others – to both remind me of things I need around the apartment-mansion and to remind me to stay focused.|
|Related: Other Downsizing Zeal essays.|
|Photo: I’m going to try to take more of these photos when I go out to document reality more often.|
|Written On: 2020 October 13 [9:37pm to 10:22pm]|
|Last Edited: 2020 October 13 [First draft; final draft for the Internet.]|