Life in Objects

It’s very easy to have your life cluttered and limited by objects. They take up space, require care and cleaning, and can take over. Not accumulating ‘things’ takes effort, and may not always seem the best way forwards. Unwanted gifts we don’t know how to part with, things that might just come in handy, stack up. I was heavily influenced by my Gran, growing up, and having been through the Second World War, she kept a hoarder’s mentality. Waste not, want not. Re-using is also a green option, and to re-use, you have to keep.

If items are bought carelessly and have little monetary or personal meaning, then de-cluttering is easy. I’ve not tended to buy ‘things’ for myself. Most of my ornaments were gifts, as were a significant number of my books. I have objects that belonged to my grandmother, and great grandmother, and other family members. So many of the things I own have stories of their own, and that makes them harder to part with. Relinquishing the object means relinquishing the story, and the connection, the ongoing reminder of the one it belonged to before me.

But on the other hand, I have a lot of stuff, and there isn’t room for all of it. I can’t take it all with me. I don’t have half the necessary things I could do with, and I do have a lot of things I love, but do not strictly speaking, need.

A few generations ago, the house sheltered a family of seven. They lived before washing machines and fridges, grew their own fruit and vegetables, and probably didn’t own any books aside from a Bible. I’m a whole world away from them. It creates an interesting sort of perspective. By normal standards, I am going to be very tight for money in the next few months. By the standards of those who lived in that house before me, I am astoundingly wealthy, and possessed of a lot of luxuries.

Most of my ancestors were not, to the best of my knowledge, affluent people by the standards of their own time. By today’s standards, they were very poor indeed, and lived in conditions we could barely imagine. Most of us modern folk would not know how to survive in the world our predecessors inhabited. You don’t have to go back many generations to life without hot and cold running water, or electricity.

I feel like I am camped out somewhere between the past and the present, straddling two worlds. I’ve tended to choose a lifestyle more like that of previous generations (laptop and internet my big concession to modern living). Now it will be a necessity. I’m learning to spin, going to try my hand at growing vegetables. The direction of the future seems, in many ways, like moving towards the past.

 I keep the things that are dear to me, and part with everything I can bear to give up. I’m finding new items to replace the necessities I couldn’t bring with me. Second hand things, cleaned, painted and otherwise made into something new. In the future, these will be part of the story of when I came back to the Cotswolds, and I will have become fond of them.