I’m sitting in my office, at my desk, staring into my screen and trying like heck not to look around me. I have a lot of stuff. The nature of my work requires a lot of stuff, but I realise I require stuff too. I like books. I like surrounding myself with them. Most of my books are packed into boxes now, as are my DVDs, CDs and other miscellaneous things. Baggage. The stuff I love all becomes baggage.
I admire people who can live in the “Tiny Houses” that have become very fashionable in recent years. I can’t be one of them, not ever. I like the comforts of my belongings, and I also need stuff to do my work. You never see a large-scale artist or craftsperson living in one of the tiny houses… nope. We need things to do our things. Clutter is part of the job, because the job requires stuff.
Granted, this doesn’t explain why I still have so many DVDs yet I don’t watch TV. What I can say is that I collect stuff like I take photographs- it all helps me remember things. I was going through the travel bookshelf upstairs the other day and just by picking up a book on a place I began remembering the time spent there. I smiled and thought of particular cobbled streets, a dinner under a parasol, the storm. My brain is not wired to remember things without physical stimuli. I’ve always been this way and I’ve always found stuff a comfort. It helps me retain the memories- the me. Without these triggers I live a little like an amnesiac. It’s confusing and lonely.
Amongst those who know me there’s a joke about my terrible memory for movies. The fleeting information in a film pops into my brain and washes right out again. There are films I don’t remember at all, even seeing them a second time. I question all of my experiences. Did I really experience this thing? Did I imagine it? Have I only heard of it and my mind is making up the rest? Without the books, the DVDs, the photos, the boxes of keepsakes, my brain has no tether to these things that happen. It’s depressing.
I’m moving soon. I’ll have a new home and studio. I have no doubt I will live in a much smaller space and most of my belongings will remain boxed for an indeterminate time. It will be difficult to not have the comforting surroundings of my memory triggers. The stuff I love all becomes baggage. I said that in the first paragraph. It’s both literal and metaphorical to say.
I’ll never be one of those people who can get rid of everything and live simply. To do so would be to take away my experiences, which for me, attach by delicate threads to my mind. I don’t have to tell you that I’m a little scared of what I’ll become in my old age. Will my fragile hold on my memories get worse? I don’t know. For now, I can keep my books, my belongings, safe in boxes until it’s time to put them in a new home where I can see and touch it all when I need to remember… when I need to remember me.