I was in a large retail environment the other day, and ended up in what might loosely be called the home furnishings/decor department. Needless to say, I was overwhelmed by the huge amount of cheap, Chinese-made ornament around. Some even looked nice.
It made me think back to the house I grew up in. I pictured the way our living room looked in my mind’s eye, and I can still recall some of the knick-knacks that were around. I was amazed at how much I could still picture.
If you think back, I’m sure you can picture your old house too. The lamps that you had, the ashtrays that everyone had even if they didn’t smoke, because your guests, neighbors and aunts and uncles probably did.
Furniture and furnishings seemed to last forever. The pillows my grandmother embroidered by hand. Today’s cheap pillowcases wouldn’t even last long enough to be worth expending that kind of effort on. The furniture we had when I was in elementary school was pretty much the same stuff we had when I left home, give or take a piece.
Now that I am old, those memories are what I think of whenever somebody mentions “home”. I wonder if the same connotation will be there for those who are growing up in today’s throwaway, disposable culture. Hell, I can’t even really recall all the stuff I’ve had in my own places over the years, most of it was either junked or donated because it wasn’t worth moving, and new stuff was so cheap.
Most of our culture is short-lived and disposable. But there’s a lot to be said for connection to our physical environment, even if it’s just a souvenir from a vacation, or a small piece of pottery we bought at a local art fair from the person who made it.
It’s all just stuff, and in the end we’ll leave it all behind. But while we’re here, we should make sure the things we have in our life have some kind of meaning, or our own lives won’t.