Thursday, October 17, 2013

Knock, Knock & Stuff We Own

Knock, Knock.

Someone's knocking at my door.

"Who is it?" I question... but say nothing.

UPS never knocks, just throws packages on the porch with a thud. It's too early for political canvassing, too late for soliciting to change electric companies, Jehovah Witnesses don't come calling on weekdays, and friends always phone first.

Whoever it is and whatever they want, I pretend no one is home.

Before I can say, "Good, they're gone", another single knock... soft, hesitant, as if made by a child, only someone smaller, more skittish and with a bushy tail.

Why would a squirrel with a green apple shoved in her mouth be knocking on my door? I have no clue, but she's sitting near my feet with her pointy face looking up at me as if to say... "Trick or Treat!"

Perhaps she's paying me a visit as a kind of peace offering for chewing the telephone wires leaving us without service for days. Yes, we still have a landline. Or maybe she's here to apologize for knocking over the bird feeders and spewing sunflower seeds all over the yard.

"All of nature talks to me. If I could just figure out what it was trying to tell me."... lyrics to 'Sharkey's Day' by Laurie Anderson.

No matter, one look at me, and my furry friend is off, no message, just a small green semi-rotten apple left on my doorstep.

Make that 'apples'... plural. I now have a collection of her fruit all over the porch. Thank you very much, but I have my own collection of stuff inside the house.

People are a lot like squirrels... always on the move, always in a hurry, always accumulating stuff we think we need or want. And we bury our possessions, maybe not in the ground, but in boxes, bins, closets, drawers and sometimes storage units. Then, when we've forgotten where we've put our things, in desperation, or because we can or want, we search for new stuff.

Whoever said, "You are what you eat" missed the plate.

"We are what we own" and what we own, sometimes owns us!

I own mostly inexpensive things preferring paper and plastic to diamonds and gold.

Plastic jewelry, toys, even oddities like tags off of bread bags and little hangers from packaged socks.  Boxes and boxes that hold paper: books, written material, photocopied articles, personal journals, letters / cards, and scratchy handwritten notes that become cryptic over time... paper and plastic with unlimited potential.

Paul Rand in his book, 'Paul Rand: A Designer's Art', when discussing 'Ideas about Ideas' says, "The artist is a collection of things imaginary or real. He accumulates things with the same enthusiasm that a little boy stuffs his pockets. The scrap heap and the museum are embraced with equal curiosity. He takes snapshots, makes notes, records impressions on tablecloths or newspapers and the backs of envelopes or matchbooks. Why one thing and not another is part of the mystery, but he is omnivorous... Without the harvest of visual experience, he would be unable to cope with the plethora of problems, mundane or otherwise, that confront him in his daily work."

Artist or not, we all long to thrive, not just survive, and the things we own are the substances that define us.

Michael Johansson

If objects could talk, I guess mine might say that I'm practical yet quirky, a pursuant of ideas with a strong desire to transform them.

Which doesn't excuse the pile of clutter surrounding me now.

Anais Nin once said, "When I cannot bear outer pressures anymore, I begin to put order in my belongings... As if unable to organize and control my life, I seek to exert this on the world of objects"... my sentiments exactly.

Thankfully, I am not a hoarder. As much as I love collecting things that may or may not have significance, I also get great pleasure and comfort from creating order from chaos, paring down, and sifting through things I've acquired.

Like this horoscope written by Rob Brezsny, which reads..."Right now your life may seem like a loose tangle of disparate threads. But this is merely an illusion designed by God to rouse your passion to create harmony and unity. The proper response to the scattered vibes, then, is not to mourn but to organize... Don't be a slave to the things you control... Greater personal power will flow to you as a result of the thoughtful surrender... A surprise gift will arrive after you give up a supposed asset you don't really need or use."

Having gained knowledge from this horoscope while in full declutter mode, I shred the paper it's written on and take a break. I decide to get some fresh air and capture my squirrel friend with my camera. 

Instead, I find this on the ground at the end of the driveway.

Who loses a bra and doesn't notice it missing?... especially one that's hot pink!

It is a surprise, but hopefully not 'my' surprise for getting rid of a few possessions.

I leave the bra as I find it and a few hours later it's gone.

Perhaps back on some small-breasted woman or lining a sexy squirrel's nest.

Sugar Bush Squirrel

One man's trash is another man's / squirrel's treasure, if we can just figure out where to put it all.

Do you wrestle with clutter or do you have a place for everything and everything in its place?

What sorts of objects do you gravitate towards and what do they say about You?

Here are a few links you might find interesting:

'Recycling in Style', a short video on Michael Johansson here and some of his exterior installations here.

Laurie Anderson's music video  'Sharkey's Day' here.

Sugar Bush: The World's Most Photographed Squirrel here.

'Things Organized Neatly' here.

A written piece on Philadelphia's Dumpster Divers here and a short video here.

How Clutter affects you and what you can do about it here.

Squirrel to 'Here and Next'

Knock, Knock
Who's there?
Leaf who?
Leaf me alone I'm too busy collecting rotten apples.

 XOX... Dyan

1 comment:

  1. To answer your question, yes, I struggle with clutter. I hate going to the mailbox every day because there is always stuff that I have to deal with or find a place for. It always gets put on my kitchen counter and piles up until I get around to dealing with it. Some of it also lands on my desk in the kitchen. Both of these surfaces cause me stress every time I look at it. I'm a person who loves organization, neatness and a place for everything and everything in its place. Trouble is, I'm not sure what to do with much of what comes in. Much of it is stuff that looks interesting but needs time to read so it gets put off to when I have more time to give it the attention it deserves but that time never seems to come. There are also recipes that sound good to try clipped from magazines and various other sources, requests for donations from various organizations and charities I support, magazines,books, various clippings from newspaper or magazine articles that I want to save for future reference and notes to myself or my husband. The rest of my house is very organized and neat except areas that are exclusively my husband's.

    The things I collect are: miniatures, quotations and cards from family and friends. I can't bear to depart with a beautiful sentiment sent from someone I love. Cards and notes that came from my dearly departed parents are especially precious. I also have a "picture morgue" that are just photos that I like. I used to print and save jokes and pictures that I received that I liked via e-mail but I stopped doing that.

    One of my favorite places is The Container Store. I'll never forget the first time I walked into that store. I was overcome with all the ways to organize and store anything you could imagine. I told my friends that I was with that it was almost "an orgasmic experience".

    There was a very popular book out that I read years ago : Simple Abundance. I don't remember the author. Have you heard of it? The premise was that we can be happy with less and that what we already have is enough and not to feel like we should have more to be happy.

    I loved the art of Michael Johansson and the Dumpster Divers. I also loved the Things Organized Neatly. They all speak to me because of my enthusiasm for recycling and reducing waste. The creations they make are so creative and beautiful. In high school I had an assignment in art class to create a "junk sculpture". Rob went with me one evening on "trash night" collecting items from people's trash piles. It was great fun and it was great fun making my sculpture.