John (Going Gently on my side bar) has a blog today about stuff he and his partner have accumulated over their years together. It heartened me to see it. So many people these days are minimalist and have little or no accumulated stuff. I, on the other hand, in keeping with John's philosophy, have masses of stuff. You could pick up any one piece and I would be able to tell you where it came from, why I like it and why I choose to keep it - and above all - what memories it holds for me.
I love my stuff and I move it all around to suit my feelings at the moment. One or two particularly precious pieces are already in my will to go to people who I know will treasure them. The rest, when I and the farmer die, will no doubt be picked over by anyone in line to inherit any of it and then the residue will be sent to some sale room somewhere.
Does that distress me? Well, I suppose it would if I thought about it too deeply but in the cool, clear light of day, most stuff and its memories is only important to the person who bought it/was given it/ acquired it in some way. And memories die with us, don't they, so that piece of stuff would not hold any importance to whoever inherited it.
I am reminded of the Kahlil Gibran quotation:
'Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life's longing for itself....
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls shall dwell in the house of tomorrow, which you cannot visit,
Not even in your dreams.'
I have put on photographs of just a few of my treasures and the memories they hold for me. Those memories will not be passed on to my son or to my grandchildren - they will no longer have meaning.
1. The embroidered raffia basket which hangs from my kitchen celing was given to me many years ago by a West Indian boy I taught. I wrote a letter for his father asking his employers for leave to visit his parents still in Jamaica. As a thank you the father brought me this basket back. My pupil brought it into school very early in the morning (I was usually in school by eight o'clock) so that no other pupil should see him bringing in a present for teacher.
I treasure it greatly and it holds good memories.
2. The two beaded love birds hang over my kitchen doorway. I bought them on a holiday in the Taurus mountains in Turkey. They were made by prisoners in a Turkish jail. I have had them for years and they remind me of a wonderful holiday with my previous husband.
3. The oyster catcher was bought on our holiday in Norfolk earlier this year. The bird is common in Norfolk; it is also quite common in our fields. Although I have only had it a few weeks, I love it already.
4. The Chinese writing, which is apparently a poem about rural life and is written on rice paper (I had it framed) was bought almost forty years ago in China. Although I have no translation I love it for its intrinsic beauty.
5. This picture of Venice was painted after a particularly wonderful week in Venice. Again, it was painted by my first husband. We were riding up the Grand Canal in a Vaporetto when we passed this beautiful garden so my husband committed the memory to oil paint as soon as he returned home.
6. A painting is
by Toni Bartl, the Czech artist, who was a friend of my first husband. It symbolises the uniting of a man and a woman and was given to us by the artist on the occasion of our wedding in March 1952.
Nobody will know any of that when we are gone. Will it matter?
No, I suppose it won't. The important thing is that I get pleasure from them and their memories whilst I am here. What my children and grandchildren choose to do with them is unimportant isn't it?
Sorry about the way the pictures have popped up in the middle of the text. Is there a way of getting them where you want them to go or does Google have a mind of its own? I would be grateful if someone would tell me.