A globe. A paper weight. Two aged books I’ve never opened. A drum. A travel alarm c lock from the 50s. Three different dictionaries. A yellow highlighter.
Our shelves and desks and cupboards fill up with things we never use. We stare at them, sure. But we don’t use them. We don’t interact with them. They’re part of the scenery; an extension of the wallpaper, like that sticker you still haven’t taken off of your pocket calculator.
I’ve thought about these things a lot recently. As I look around my office, or our bookshelves, or any part of our home, I take inventory. We’re planning a move as soon as our house sells, and every item in this house must be moved with us. Even the things we rarely pay attention to – items as trivial, yet as seemingly necessary, as a series of Super Bowl rushing statistics must be to an NFL fan.
They collect in our homes and our offices because each item, in some small way, shows others who we are. We love the world, we love antiques, we love books and words and are serious about their use. But they still take up space. Useful space. Calming space.
Imagine how easy things would be if our stuff was measured by use, not by mass. Our decorative items and our knick knacks and our seventh set of coasters and our stacks of unread books would be weightless, easy to transport. The things that really mattered would weigh the most, and that would be okay because they really mattered. We really need them.
Unfortunately, things weigh the same whether they’re used or not.
And that space? That calming space? I often can’t handle it. I’m no minimalist, though I’d like to portray one on T.V. I’m a cluttered packrat. An organized, yet cluttered pack rat. I collect. I aim for completeness. I prepare for anything. I need highlighters because someday I may highlight. I need those two extra dictionaries because someday I may need a second and third opinion.
Space was made to be filled, whether it’s usefully or not. Sure, if these things were gone, I might not miss them at all.
But they’re not gone. They’re still here. And regardless of whether they’ll find a use someday, I love them all the same.
The travel clock that doesn’t run. The paperweight that doesn’t touch paper. The faded antiques that I salvaged, much to the chagrin of the Gods of Simple.
It’s all just useless stuff. But it’s our useless stuff.