Thursday, January 6, 2011

•on collections•

When you get a bunch of things together, don't you just love looking at the set? So many sets in our lives. Leaves on the ground, under a tree. Mushrooms poking up. Fog, seeking nooks and crannies. Visible stars.

We spend so much of our lives arranging and rearranging. Clustering, to make sense. How exactly I got the hang of it, the ability to regard things as whole, I will never know. (Just because I have the hang of it doesn't mean I can always move on. I'll still be tetris-ing certain "sets" for years to come...) Almost everything in life is unfinished. Incomplete. In my early thinking years, I heard this a lot: such-and-such is never finished, only abandoned. I heard those words, and understood they were important, and still--I was dissatisfied with everything I did. Every project, every flippin' cairn. Nothing was ever good enough, nothing "done." My censor was so very, very loud, it's a wonder I'm not deaf today.

Now, I dump out the contents of my green bag (dare I call it a purse?) and marvel at the bits and bobs. Sand. Empty jars of orange peel and cardamom. Sharpies (that's where they went!). A walnut. A cloth napkin, featuring a duck in a shiny red helmet. An uncharacteristic bottle of hand sanitizer. Gathered together, they make a whole. A snapshot. Some kind of story, someone's actual life. I see the set--and, mind you, it's just a pile of crap I'm talking about--and I see that it's complete. As done as done can ever be. Maybe this is a piece of the action/non-action paradigm. Wu wei.

So, I've got some Zen going on, here. About as much Zen as one can pack into a pile o crap with no less than five--5--different lip balms. Huh. This really turns my former aw-shucks-I-suck attitude toward things like, say, my recorded music, on its ear. If I can empty a bag and find magic in crumpled receipts, then.... I can certainly put on an old album and love it for what it is. A set. A snapshot. A done thing, wholly separate from my self, with a life all its own. xox


  1. And some of us love your albums just 'cause they're pretty damn awesome. But sure, the detritus from your bag is cool too. ;-) xo

  2. You know what else? I know exactly what you mean about a collection having its own life, being its own thing--but it also always has essence of the person who created it written all over it. Your albums of course, and even this collection of crap. Not that "essence of you" is in any way crap, you understand, but there's something about this pile that just says "Lis" to me. I find it lovely and charming for precisely that reason. (But then, I do tend to personify objects, or endow them with character attributes not generally considered object-ey.)

  3. This reminds me how I miss the pattern my purse contents used to make: a onesie, some wipes, a sippy cup, cheerios.

    (lovely posts, lovely comments)