“ Often, the story of an artifact’s journey is more remarkable than the object itself. ”

 ~ Mackenzie Finklea

Today I want you to help me answer a question. I’m trying to figure out what other artifacts common to us in the modern world bring on as strong of feelings of connection as books or records.

The word “love” is used here both for the kind of passionate feelings you may have for another person, a pet, or even a place and the kind of “love” you can have for some object or a collection in your life that brings you continual enrichment and joy.

What does it mean to love someone else or a critter or even a small corner of the earth? You pay attention to their needs and desires, you provide a safe haven for them, you plant a garden.

“Stuff”, however assumes a different role in our life. Whatever the tool, toy, or totem may be, without our personal attention to it it just becomes someone else’s dusty junk.

I’m posing this question today in part due to my own myopia about the matter. I am beyond partial to my vinyl collection. I’m the same way to a lesser degree about books. And over the past few years, my darling partner Isabelle has introduced me to the world of jigsaw puzzle fanatics.

I have a hard time seeing beyond those three realms. I suppose there are people just as absorbed with any number of things that you might call hobbies. I’ve met a few old model train geezers in my time, they are a fierce breed.

I remember visiting the apartment of my friends chain-smoking partner in San Francisco a number of years back. Virtually every wall, corner, and alcove was crammed with neatly arranged shelves housing collections of various types of figurines. The collections were astonishing in their detail, complexity, and humor. Not just one ceramic frog, but hundreds ranging from the size of a pinhead to a cantaloupe. Snow globes featuring the capitals of every state in the union. Scores of National Park ashtrays. An army of Elvis’s.

Every collection was neatly arranged, dusted, and curated to perfection. The tiny apartment was neat as a pin. it was the most bizarre atmosphere, I’ll never forget it.

Obviously she loved her “stuff” and made an integral part of her identity out of it. But it always kind of creeped me out thinking about it; what do you do when you’re home alone surrounded by all those objects that are just sitting there?

Interactive items have a different potential for engagement and activity. Any record in my stacks can be pulled out to surround me with sound or shared with company. A favorite book is always there to refer to or re-read. You can never assemble a jigsaw puzzle the same way twice. When one of those things sparks joy when it first comes your way, it’s only natural to want to keep it around.

So what am I missing? I’ve never been a gamer, but I suppose vintage consoles and cartridges must have a lasting allure. Musical instruments and equipment come to mind. Automobiles, (to the detriment of our planet, unfortunately). Freddy Mercury wasn’t kidding when he sang “I’m in love with my car.” A cook’s knife? A crafts-person’s tools? The implements of an artist?

The clutter clearing mantra is “Love it, Use it, or Lose it.” Things in the ‘love it’ category are things that you’d be willing to pack up and take with you, regardless of the effort. Stuff that you would miss if it was gone. The inanimate objects that enhance your solitude or bring joy when shared with another.

Lately I’ve been finding a number of mint condition records pressed back around the time I was born. Media that‘s perfectly serviceable after a half century of storage. Then I think about the device in my hand into which I’m composing these thoughts. Only a couple of years old and yet it feels dated. I’m already thinking about replacing it, because of course there are newer and better ones on the market.

I suppose what I’m looking for are ideas about other things that serve to enhance one’s solitude. I’m working on a writing project about the inexplicable love people have for vinyl records, and while I am obviously biased, I also want to be fair.

Whatever floats your boat in your quieter hours is just fine by me. Your solitude is for you alone.

Much love till next Monday!


Mark Metz
Director of the Dance First Association
Publisher of Conscious Dancer Magazine

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