I may often be accused of being a "packrat". Yes I will say to the minimalist I do have an abundance of stuff that I accumulate, but mainly in my personal space such as my office or personal top drawer of my dresser; yes, my "junk drawer". I prefer to label myself as "sentimental" or that I hold onto life's mementos, but I try to keep it under control and not be fodder for episodes of Clean House or worse yet to be "that guy" that you may encounter as the male equivalent of the "cat lady" who mysteriously peeks occasionally through the blinds and has oatmeal cartons from 10 years ago still thinking Y2K is "just a bit late".
I have found that I enjoy having little random and obscure items that remind me of people, places or things that I can upon occasion pick up, reflect, smile and return to the location in which I found them that acts as a time capsule of thought I can open at will and be momentarily projected back in time. Some things I consider lucky unlike the barbaric rabbits foot from my youth. Wasn't lucky for the rabbit! Some I consider little trinkets that remind me of a lesson, a "lovely parting gift" from a place I enjoy, or a gesture of love from someone I admire or adore.
I find many people in a quest for a pristine space or a showcase to one's hard work or status such as their home, at times has people feeling that holding onto certain things can be counterproductive; that not only is it being over nostalgic, but just plain old messy. I find that true in some instances and if you are indeed creating "mouse condos", have Sears catalogues with the name "Roebuck" still on the cover, yes you may need an intervention. I am talking about holding on to little items, tokens of an inside joke, photos of a moment you do not want to forget the imagery as fast as the ones in the albums and drawers.
I have found that in my personal space I have what I consider little "shrines" of pocket sized lessons, amulets, and doo-dads that keep me connected to the person or message that I find emanating from the object. These unique and random items come together to create a story of who I am, wish to be, or strive to be and I can easily take one with me should I need the message to become memorable or simply portable.
A few of my favorite things on my desktop...
I share with you now a few personal items that to a person who may invade my space and infiltrate my domain uninvited or not getting the "ten cent tour" may find garbage at best. For example, one thing on my shrine is an acorn. Quite ordinary to the unitiniated, but to me special. My son retrieved it from under a tree one day while we were on our way to a museum, and he asked what it was I gave him a description that a 5 year old could digest. His amazement that it was a "tree seed" that would grow into the shade providing wonder we stood under was profound. The few moments of silence he stood there examining this brilliant obeject in his hand was astounding actually. He asked me to hold it for him as if he were asking me to hold the key to the kingdom of heaven. The message in the object? Live life with the wonder of a child.
I also have a small glass container with some shell pieces in it. Should someone who does not know me see these items, they may ask what happened to the "pretty shells". I intentionally made a collection of these as they remind me of a beautiful walk on the beach I had one day last summer. With that walk I stood in gratitude and awe at the magnitude and the beauty of nature and the majesty of the sea. The poignant part was though that these pieces are all unique, briilliant, and shiny unlike their counterparts from where they derived. Where most collect the typical scallop shaped shellls, conch, and other familiar shapes, the seas had broken these pieces down into small but wonderful shiny objects of art. The message I got from these artifacts were that at times when we feel that we are "broken" or beyond repair, we can truly shine brightly, have great stories to tell of our journey, and that someone can still find beauty in us. They caused me to write, "only after being tossed and tumbled in life's current, do we become most brilliant, and our edges smoothed." We humans can be like those shell shards. It can be the stories we have about overcoming the insurmountable that make us interesting and of great service to our fellow man. I made a few pieces into jewelry I wear often to remind me.
I also have many coins of varying color with varying numbers on the front. These all count the months of sobriety I have accumulated. Some of these I received from very close friends helping me celebrate crossing a chasm that I have since known others to have died from, they fell before crossing to the other side. I dont want to forget them or my mission to myself and those that count on me.
I have stones, and twigs, and other little offerings that my kids have found sometimes in the yard, sometimes made in school, sometimes created with deep diligence, sometimes as simple as bending to pick it up. The message in these is that the gifts value has nothing to do with how much is spent on the gift, nor even the amount of time to acquire or create it. The value comes from the love and affectionate intention behind it. My sticks are worth as much as my coins.
Many other things flank what I have mentioned; to prayers on bookmarks, jewels, crystals, and artsy objects given to me, and they all come together to remind me that I am loved, I love them, and that there are many lessons to be found outside a church and classroom as the title to my blog mentions. It is also another testimony to the "one man's trash is another man's treasure". I try not to hold onto everything not only so my family let's me live here, but so that the message is not diluted and the items have a unique significance. The items may also rotate from time to time as I may share, loan, give, or delete one to make way for another to take it's place and continue the stories and lessons I need to refelct upon from time to time.
I have found it healthy to have a few of these things around to inspire me and visually help me stay connected in a fun way to people and moments that intersect my life's path. I commit to keeping it tidy and discreet. I truly think if anyone saw it, they may think this means something to someone. I now look at people's desks and personal spaces differently now as I have tried to justify some of my "clutter". I am respectful as to how "exposed" people have to be to my "stuff" as since it is personal, I keep it personally close and sacredly out of the path of people I share my space with. So now when I am criticizing people for their junk, and wish they may "clean that crap up", I hold my tongue a moment longer. Now I do not consider my wife's shoes on the kitchen floor a shrine to the gods, an open box of cereal on the counter sacred, nor a stack of legos sentimental, but I will respect the proverbial junk drawer with a bit more reverence, and find that it holds as many memories as it does forgotten junk.