On the Preservation of Things


(CHINA, Tibet) A monk's cast-off shoes and jacket. (Photo taken and edited by the author.)

(CHINA, Tibet) A monk’s cast-off shoes and jacket. (Photo taken and edited by the author.)

I’ve gotten precious little work done the last week; the days went to dental appointments, administrative chores, bill payments, car repairs, house repairs…In short, to maintenance of the spectacularly uncapitalized kind.

I’ve written about this before (probably several times; for one example see this post) and while growing older has softened the annoyance, frustration and irritation somewhat, I still very much resent the amount of time and energy the preservation of things takes.

And the older I get, the greater the proportion of time and energy conservation takes in relation to creation.

Which is why the history of my youth is littered by the corpses of the broken, the discarded and the worn-out. I couldn’t be bothered to fix anything so I abandoned mementos, possessions, recollections and even relationships. At one point, it became an obsession to cast off cargo: to pare down excess baggage to no baggage at all.

(Minimalism is the lonely child born of the union of aesthetics and pragmatism: it’s beauty left to defend itself; beauty left to fend for itself.)

But what I’ve discovered is that while excess baggage costs one a lot, no baggage at all leaves one unmoored. The sheer weight of our belongings (tangible and intangible) anchors us to the world and generates a gravity that allows us to spin in untethered circles around the density of our concerns.

And yes, the price we have to pay for this belonging is the rent levied by the utter fragility of things. Things are forever and always breaking down (ourselves included), and we have to weave and reweave the ties that bind.

Part of the work of redefining acceptance that I have to take on (see yesterday’s blog post to get the allusion) is to come to terms with this Sisyphean task of endless caringwhich is, in itself, another Sisyphean task.

This is me, pushing my twin boulders up the hill.

Gaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah.

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