– Charlie Brown
Given how tangled up my physical belongings are with both my emotional and spiritual life (which all gets funneled through my camera, in case I hadn’t noticed), it makes sense that writing about downsizing will be a murky process – so bear with me.
There is a modest abundance of objects in my home unclouded by psychic storms. I own them with pure love and remorseless attachment. My grandmother’s Delft pitcher, my butterfly quilt, the greyhounds Karen knitted me, my collection of porcelain hands – to me, these things are unambiguously wonderful and necessary to life.
The inventory of uncluttered attachments is a very brief compared to what lies in my closet, on my shelves and in my basement storage locker.
Shoeboxes of vintage greeting cards to make into baskets; yards of vintage fabric to resell online; velvet leaves and beads and buttons for garlands and necklaces – layers carefully, even pleasingly arranged, waiting to be worked on and created with – all accumulating into a great big ZERO. Just imagining the unfulfilled intentions attached to a majority of things in my home makes my palms sweat and my heart shrivel. I stand in their accusatory presence, already judged: a money-wasting, time-wasting fraud – unable (or unwilling) to bring more than a gasp of half-hearted effort to fulfilling the visions that brought them here in the first place.
Busted. Caught in the act. All these dormant desires prove how lazy, weak and self-involved I am. A dreamer, not a doer, right? A starter, not a finisher? A dilettante, not a real artist?
Considering how bad this stuff makes me feel – YOU’D THINK THAT I COULDN’T WAIT TO GET RID OF IT!
BUT…say it with me, Steve Martin fans…NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!
Instead, I feel compelled to keep these pointing fingers around me, like a self-imposed scarlet A ( standing for Absolutely Not An Artist.) I tell myself: If I sell some of this fabric or old wrapping paper, that will make it alright that I spent the money. I ruminate: If I give away the vintage greeting cards, and I want to make Christmas card baskets, I won’t have money to replace them. I ponder: If I don’t keep the buttons, how will I ever make the button-tree forest I see in my mind?
I hesitate, too paralyzed with guilt to step into the jaws of the guilt-breathing dragon, and face my remorse. Yet, that is the only way to save the brave Princess – and rehabilitate the dragon.
A tricky spot, to be sure, but – it bears pointing out – FAMILIAR. Once identified, there are 2 things I can say for sure about this situation.
1) It requires action, not thinking.
2) I CAN DO IT.