Thursday, August 25, 2016

The Secret Life of Things: Honoring the objects we live with

Long may you run
Although these changes have come
With your chrome heart shining
in the sun
 Long may you run
.....Neil Young

A few years back I was going to sell my "$3,500.00 Home" ("Lucy" cost me that), a 1989 motorhome I lived in when I was in New Mexico.  I wanted to find someone who would appreciate her as I have, but I never did, so I ended up putting Lucy onto my property and she became my "guest house".  

There is a lot of talk about tiny houses, and I'm somewhat amazed at the prices being asked for them.......but before tiny houses, there were trailers and motorhomes.  At least when standing, Lucy cost me very little - no mortgage, no property taxes, and if I didn't like the neighborhood, I moved.  I realize motor home housing is not that good for people living in cold climates, but for people in the Southwest, and particularly seniors on a low budget, it's a real solution.  And since Lucy and I have had such a good relationship, our friendship continues.

Why should we not think of the objects that serve us, that make our lives easier, pleasurable, and friends?  We are such a disposible society, hardly  anyone understands my thinking in this way.  And yet, "things" have a kind of life as well, and deserve honor for the service they've given.   Whether a house, or a car, a teapot or a beloved dress, things are infused with the energy of those who have owned and used them.  A fortunately enjoyed item can emanate peace, or comfort, or want to touch it, sit in it, sleep in it, eat off of it, look at it.  It just feels good and you don't know why, and that "mana" one feels goes beyond design.

The disposibility of our culture has not only caused environmental destruction, but it's also caused us to lose this sensibility, a kind of "6th sense" that tuned us to the "secret life of things".

For example, people used to inherit collections of precious china, cups and saucers that were proudly brought out to serve tea to guests.  Those teacups (and I have a few of my own) are infused with the ancient aroma of ancestral tea leaves, and the hands and lips of people long gone.

 Yet a lineage remains in some way, something that enters into the almost forgotten ceremony of hospitable tea offering (which can include cakes as well).   Imagine people sitting to tea, eating their cakes and enjoying the lovely patterns of flowers on the cup in their hand, colors emerging from the amber liquid of the tea?  As a child I used to play with those fragile little cups and imagine their use and history.

Or how about my 75 year old sewing machine, which still works?  Think of the women who cherished this precious machine, kept it oiled and replaced the belts over the years, the changing fashions that were constructed for parties and work under that needle?

So, I write to honore my old mobile home, my friend.  Thank you for years of shelter and good dreams, for meals cooked and roads wandered.  Thank you to the many things  and machines and momentoes that have travelled in boxes or trucks or suitcases with me over the years.  

Long may you run.


Trish and Rob MacGregor said...


Trish and Rob MacGregor said...

I'm coming to your place for coffee or something, and sitting at that beautiful round tale with two chairs!

lauren raine said...

You are always welcome! I still have it.