Stuff. Want. Need. Part.

Not unlike much of the rest of the first world, I have too much stuff.

I have spent quite a bit of time in recent years thinking about buying, reorganizing, sorting, consigning, selling, donating, moving and cleaning stuff.   Household items, clothing, furniture, textiles, gadgets,  and some things that aren’t quite right, that I picked up at a yard sale or a clearance rack anyhow because they were too good to pass up, looked sort of interesting at the time, and still had plenty of serviceable life left, even though didn’t really need it.

For that matter, I don’t need anything aside from food, water, shelter, and arguably love.  I could go on about needs, but you get the point.

This cycle of stuff management consumes an inordinate amount of time and brain capacity.  Busy, but unproductive, nonetheless.  I am not proud of that, but it is what it is.  I am working hard to change as I weed through all of it- bit by bit, drawer by drawer.

Part of me is quite obsessively neat, requiring everything to be in its proper place at all times.  Another part of me can handle dustballs and a few dishes soaking in the sink.   I guess that is the upside of my decidedly near-sightedness.   If the stuff is neatly arranged, and where I would like it to be, from afar without my glasses- I’m good with that… and the dust, well, if I can’t see it, it must not be there.

Once I put on my glasses or finish up reading an essay about minimalism I found online, I am in a near frenzy of tidying up and streamlining.

At heart and in mind, I want to be a minimalist- I like staying at hotels with just the bare bones of the essentials.  I like the order.  On the other hand, I enjoy visiting places with lots of  florals, pattern on pattern and complex color palettes.

In short, I need very little and sometimes I don’t get what I need, but what I want.  Of course, the opposite is also often true, it just doesn’t feel so good.  Too much of anything makes me feel as though I am suffocating and so weighed down.

There is a whole industry selling items to organize stuff, and then yet another, minimalist movement- books, videos, lectures- dedicated to the how to have less stuff which strikes me as complete irony to create stuff about getting rid of stuff.  No offense to Marie Kondo and others with a similar message- I just don’t get it.  Buy a book to tell you how to get rid of all of your other books?  Though I do admire the sensibility and message.

I am on a mission- use, enjoy, savor, but don’t save just in case, share it with someone else and let it go.

Off to the transfer station and donation center- have a load of stuff in the boot of my car.

Yet, there are some things I will never part with…

stuff-want-need-part-2

Sunny

Craving some sun on this first day of spring.  This little yellow scooter I spotted last summer parked in front of the Chatham Beach & Tennis Club definitely gives the right vibe.

sunny

Blog slug & kindness

Nearly every blog that I read seems to hit a dry spell of sorts at one time or another.  I always find it annoying when one of my guilty pleasures and sometimes favorite pastime is cramped by a blogger’s lack of posts.  Yet, here I am in the very same position.  I haven’t posted in quite a spell, not for lack of material or something to say, but only for the sheer fact of writing inertia that seems to have overtaken me in the past few months.

I often make little promises to myself that ought to be goals that I will write daily, no weekly, no bi-weekly, no monthly and what seems to have happened is that my posts are downright random in timing and content.  Some long, some brief, sometimes all at once, sometimes not at all.

Message for this post- kindness.  I struggle with it- not so much on the receiving end, but sometimes, more often than I would like to admit, on the giving end.  After just sweeping through the holidays I ought to feel pretty good about being kind, but I find that I have been impatient, perhaps even a bit intolerant at times, and now with the news, and so much discussion surrounding freedom of speech, I feel quite overwhelmed with an urge to give and receive kindness and struggling with its relationship to free speech.

I have difficulty reconciling the notion of free speech on one hand, yet, maintaining awareness to not bully on the other.  How does one find the line between the two?  If we are to openly express our opinions and in many cases our dissension, how do we avoid offending others?  What about do unto others?  Where does that fit into this freedom?  What about say unto others?  Has anyone’s opposing opinion ever been changed from satire or through banter?  I am certainly not an expert, but dare I say that we form our opinions from more subtle influences, and over time.  Would a heated discussion or mockery of our thoughts really make us want to change our position?

I need to be kinder, to my family, to my friends, to store clerks, or to anyone with whom I interact while secretly wishing that they move it along a bit faster.  If I feel that need, what about others around the globe?  There is so much aggression and anger, violence and intolerance.  Do the most violent ever go home at night and wish that they had been a little bit nicer?  Do they wish that they hadn’t provoked someone, ended a life, destroyed a family?  Do they wish they could find another way to convey their message?

If I were to fully exercise my freedom of speech, I am afraid of the consequences.  Remember the adage, if you can’t say anything nice?

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Westminster Abbey, London

 

Painting Inspiration

Haven’t done much painting lately aside from my kitchen walls and woodwork here and there which does not allow for much escapism except for a tea break every so often.

The views to the sea in Newport, Rhode Island have inspired me to pull out my brushes and get cracking on landscapes.  Lovely, no?  Quiet, serene, deep, meditative.  Now, I just have to finish the kitchen paint job and free myself to paint something that reminds me of the sea.

painting

painting2crop

Beyond the Gate

As I noodle around on my bike, I pass all sorts of interesting properties and wonder about the world inside the gates.

Wouldn’t this be a fantastic driveway to turn into each day?

beyondthegate

Then drive on to this lovely stone farmhouse.  I could whittle away the hours dreaming about this life.

beyondthegate2

 

Scooter dreams

There was something about this scooter parked by the side porch of a Newport, Rhode Island victorian home that grabbed me.  Perhaps somewhat vicariously I wish that had a scooter to bop about town, but my practical side realizes that just isn’t the right transportation for my location.  Nonetheless, I can dream.

scooter

Friday-full of potential

I have always loved Fridays as they represent so much opportunity to me.  A few days off, time to catch up, be lazy, or productive.  Although it’s damp and dreary here today, I will make the best of a treasured Friday. Good weather for making chowder, digging while the soil is wet or perhaps a paddle in the marshes.

Fridays make me happy.  I hope that you find a little bit of happiness in the day too.  Think potential.  Be productive.  Then take a nap.

mainemarsh

Tango makes me happy today

tangolove

There isn’t much more to say.  Tango’s expression pretty much sums it up.  She is content to be near no matter what I am doing, even weeding, and the same goes for me.

Peonies make me happy today

After so much tragic news in the press, I am on a mission to take a moment to acknowledge what makes me happy today.

Love these peonies.  Love this vase.  Love that I can appreciate both and have a roof over my head.  Safe from harm.  Loved.

peonies

 

Never again?

Trying to figure out why bad things happen has been an age old question that will never be answered.  Why? Why then? Why there?  Why was I spared while others were not?  I can’t sort that out, no one can.

I can’t get my head around the phrase “never again” either.  Although it seems to be largely associated with the holocaust, I would argue that it has probably been uttered since the beginning of human civilization as a call to understand and prevent violence.  Yet, we don’t seem to live by those words.  Wars continue, violence rages onward, bigotry and genocide run rampant despite good intentions to remember that the end game is not about rubbing out others.

So what does beget violence?  In my view, it is born out of frustration of not being recognized and heard.  Unemployment, poverty, poor living conditions, stress, all compounded by hopelessness and the inability to fix the problem more often than not, creates an atmosphere of high tension.  Throw in a bit of ego, xenophobia, mistrust of the unknown, fear, uncertainty and doubt and you have the makings of a violent cauldron.

From where I sit in Boston, I am completely stymied by the marathon bombings.  Having just walked the very spots where the bombs were placed only a few days before that horrid day, I ask myself how did it happen to someone else who just wanted to watch a road race.  What could be more benign than viewing runners, in such a solitary pursuit?  Is it about violence as a tool so as to be noticed?  I don’t get it, few do.

Nowhere did the meaningless notion of “never again” echo more loudly than when I visited Bosnia in 1996 shortly after the end of the war.  After months of wringing my hands at the ongoing news of another European war, I made the decision to try to do something about the rebuilding efforts.  On my arrival to Sarajevo, I became internally unglued at the sight of city buildings obliterated by mortar fire, remnants of bombed out cars and homes riddled with bullet holes.  It was so unthinkable that this could happen after all that Europe had been through in the preceding decades.  After sitting with women who shared their stories of rape, murder of family members, fleeing from their homes with only the clothes on their back, losing everything- their homes, families, innocence, and safety, I could barely hold myself together.  Can you imagine?  No, you probably can’t, nor could I.

I can’t really grasp how our civilization can still be so uncivilized.  Good intentions didn’t get anything done and bad intentions aren’t really worth mentioning.  Action through understanding- now that is something that I can grasp.  Hard to practice-just reflect upon political differences for a moment.  When you encounter someone with completely different political views do you argue with them so that they will change their mind?  Does it work?  Of course, it doesn’t work.  But to ask questions, try to understand how their views were shaped and why they are so important to them, well now that is a meaningful exchange and a valiant pursuit.  Can’t say as though I am very good at it, but I do know for a fact that it is the right way to go.  The best negotiation tool is to provide an opportunity for your opponent to be heard.  From there the foundation of understanding can be built.

Never again?  Sadly, I don’t think so as violence seems to beget yet more violence.  The boldest are those who can move forward without the benefit of closure, yet with a solid commitment to action through understanding.  Like all good movements for social change, it begins with each of us individually.  I have plenty of work ahead of me on this front. I have to shore up my own code of conduct, shut my mouth, open my ears and listen to stuff that I don’t want to hear, be kinder, gentler, more understanding.  I am not good at this, nor should I judge others.  Hard work, big goals, valiant pursuits.

Copley Square, Boston, MA

Copley Square, Boston, MA

Boston Public Library

Boston Public Library

Old South Church, Boston, MA

Old South Church, Boston, MA