The things we carry are also intangible. These are more important. These are the memories and the stories we carry. These are the things no one can take from us. They require no luggage, no extra plane space. They are fibers of our being, woven from experience and shared over cups of tea, pints of beer, and slices of pizza. These things are irreplaceable.
The stories. It’s the STORIES that make the THINGS we carry so important. Stories are embedded within the things in our lives. We all carry stories and ultimately it’s stories that connect us to place and things and the stories connected to those places and things draw us back and make it so hard to part.
Things don’t matter. They’re just things. This is true. Stuff can always, always be replaced. It can be given away, stolen, cast aside, destroyed or enshrined. Stuff is just stuff. But the stories connected to those things live forever. I will always see the small, crystal serving dish my grandmother served canned cranberry sauce from every Thanksgiving and think of her. My mother now serves canned cranberry sauce from it. The thing itself is worthless. If it broke I would be sad because it is a tangible connection to my grandmother and Thanksgivings past. BUT the STORY is always there, in my memory and the memories of all nine of us cousins. When the dish itself is dust the story will be here, circulating from the mouths of our children, grandchildren, nieces and nephews.
Do you see WHY that old plastic stirring spoon you couldn’t throw out after your great uncle died means so much? It’s not a bit of plastic; it’s a conduit for memory. It’s a portkey for story. We don’t deliberate over boxes of things to sell, store, or carry for fun. It’s not beer and skittles when it comes to downsizing. It’s arduous and heartbreaking. Yes, we always have the stories but the things are the grounding wire, the roots to our ever expanding branches of memory. To have the THING, be it actual, representational, or pictorial, is to have something to touch and transport. Think of the china, the platters, the plastic spoons as time capsules, not stuff to be tossed after your death.
And should the time come when you must leave everything behind, don’t bemoan the fact you’ve lost stuff. Mourn, yes. It’s necessary and cathartic. Then remember. Remember the stories connected to those things. THAT’S what is so important about the things we carry. That is why we carry them in the first place.
What do YOU carry, Dear Reader? You’ve mentioned things that root and ground you. Some of you have even told me you’ve left everything before but kept those things that rooted you to the past and acted as anchors for the future. Think of the stories. What do you carry?