Since I was a little girl I have been a keeper of objects that were either given to me in love or inspire me with their color, texture and shape. I’m still this way. My home office shelves are filled with pretty rocks and eclectic trinkets of all shapes and sizes that carry history and meaning. Here are a couple examples of my pack rat shelves:
I still have the tiny plastic squirrel that my Auntie Esther gave me when we were visiting her in Pasco. I can remember the mystery of her living room as I looked at all her pretty things on display. She was a collector too I think, though I didn’t know her well. But the squirrel takes me back to her, which is powerful magic. I have kept it for over forty years along with the porcelain raccoon I stole from my mother when I was six. It had come in a box of Red Rose tea as a promotion the company ran for a few years. That raccoon was the object of my desire for days and when she told me I couldn’t take it to school for show and tell, I took it anyway and kept it in my pocket, never showing a soul my stolen pet. I got in a bunch of trouble when my thievery was discovered but my mother later gave it to me. I’m pretty sure she knew I would always feel a little guilty whenever I looked at it. It was totally worth it. I still love that stupid shiny raccoon. It turns out I could probably get a couple of bucks for it on eBay if I were ever inclined to hock it. Which I am not.
I have been exploring my attachment to objects over the last week. It started with the soapstone clock I made for Casa Partners “Make Time for Kids” auction. I named it “Peace of Time”. I am embarrassed to admit that it was really hard for me to give it away. It had become an object of my desire over the course of a few months, bringing me great creative energy and inspiration.
And now, clock done and auctioned off, I am at a total standstill on any kind of creative thinking or doing. I have no messy bad-art project going on and to make matters worse there is no real writing going on. The book I am (mostly not) writing about my mother is turning into a total bust because it keeps turning in to “all about H”, which is typical of a peace questing narcissist.
My clock made some decent money. Which is cool. This was the whole point. The abused and neglected kids that were represented at this event are often torn from their homes without a chance for goodbyes. And while they are taken to a safer place I can’t help but wonder if it might often feel more scary than where they were taken from. After all, they have been taken from their people and no matter how bad the circumstances, your people are your people.
I later told a friend who was at the auction “I want to scoop up all these kids and just love them. I need a mansion.”
This coming from the same woman who publicly declares her children to be assholes to anyone who will listen. (In my defense, I am still in shock from the 3-on-3 wiffle ball game I played with them two weekends ago where I witnessed five of my ridiculously competitive creations at their asshole best.) So I am certainly not going to judge any parent. I can’t. I understand how easy it can be to lose yourself to various addictions that present themselves as luring demons to help you escape from yourself and forget your responsibilities as a parent.
And clearly I can’t take them all in, these sad, harmed children, just like I can’t take in all the abandoned puppies or homeless people. Quite honestly, I am mediocre at best when it comes to caring for my own people and pets. Though my love is NEVER lacking and my intentions are generally good. Most days. But I CAN love these sad children from a distance by giving some cash (though there is never enough of that) and by sending mental blessings to the children and good mojo to their parents in hope that they will get their shit together and do their own loving again.
But here’s the thing: as I have paced around my office the last two weekends, restless, scattered, unproductive, a little lost without a cause, trying to force out something that just isn’t ready to show itself yet…
“What are you doing mom?”
“Hmm. It looks more like you are playing with your stuff.”
“Yeah well. It’s a process.”
…I realize how important personal objects can be when you are lost. They can ground you, these concrete things: soothe you, inspire possibilities, make you remember your history and tell your story.
These children who are pulled from their people are also often pulled from their stuff. Sometimes something as simple as a stuffed animal left behind can render them completely lost and hopeless with no one and nothing to hold on to.
The money gained from all the beautiful clocks created and given away will help provide these children with backpacks filled with objects that will perhaps soothe and ground them enough to make them feel just a little less lost and help them begin a new story filled with possibilities and hope.
Because of my own history that may cause me to hang on to things with a grip that is perhaps tighter than it should be, I will probably always be a keeper of stuff. And that’s okay.
But I am also coming to understand as I grow older and a little more at peace with my place in the world that there is some serious “getting” in giving away objects of desire.
So don’t be freaked out if one of you someday receives a really awesome squishy green frog with a candle jar top for a crown.
It’s a process, yes?