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over the summer marty found herself catching up with an old girlfriend for a few days. during their visit our dishwasher saga got shared. the moment marty concluded the roller coaster of woe the girlfriend, anne, said, "it's your refrigerator". i wasn't there but in my mind i heard marty correct her saying "no, not my refrigerator, my dishwashwer" and then thinking "sheesh, like haven't you been listening". but she probably didn't say that because marty is a far nicer human than that and simply asked what anne meant.

anne went on to say that she heard about this guy who sought to simplify his life after his kids grew up and moved out (i got the sense there wasn't a wife in the picture). first he gave the obvious stuff away, stuff he would no longer need without his children around. then he moved to stuff that he might use but didn't too often. he kept chipping away until one day he got rid of his refrigerator. after the fridge bit the dust and some friends were over, they were like, "dude, you're a grown man living out of coolers. what the hell?"

to this expected query he replied, "i don't have a refrigerator because if i get one then i'll just want something else. right now, all i want is a refrigerator."

would anyone care for an astonishing example of exuisite logic? how ridiculously spectacular is that? and simple. and true!!! with each object we acquire, a breathtakingly long queue of 'next-ups' shift forward in the line of things we need, fancy, want, covet, desire and distract ourselves with. twenty seconds of thought reveals the line is endless, perpetually winding as long as your concious can charge a nueron. how perfect a plan, or defense rather, to deprive yourself of one base thing, one object that will become so desired all else pales next to it and as long as you do not sate that need, everything else will stay hidden behind that one missing, omni-present hulk at the front of your wishing line.

i love it.

i really couldn't love it anymore.

this does not bode well for my family, my children especially.

well it does and it doesn't. getting older means my relatives are getting older and i've recently seen a few go through 'the down-sizing'. properly done, a married couple sees the inevitable future and proactively disposes of their worldly collection in an orderly and sensible fashion distributing their belongings to people they know would enjoy or appreciate them and casting everything else off via the usual channels (e.g. estate sale, goodwill). in watching this once, twice, and now several times i can't help but wonder if this is the inevitable conclusion, why is the start of the book always the same? do these things really add so much value to our lives? and were we to rank them, what are our most cherished possessions?

i spent a few weeks during and after my summer break contemplating this 'ranking' question and struggled to order my most valued material objects. then for my dinner question of the night i posed the following to my family, "if the house were on fire, what is the one possession you own you would want to save from being ruined?". i added that they could assume all living creatures would get out safely. do you know what the number one answer to this question was? blank stares. myself included. the closest i came to something truly dear was a large picture i have of my mother but even the website that produced it for me has a copy of the image so it could be replaced. also, my computer files are backed up off-site so those could be replaced as well. a few days later, while passing marty i said:

TROY
my bike.

MARTY
what?

TROY
my bike. i guess i would grab my bike if the house were on fire.

MARTY
oh.

TROY
yeah. it's almost twenty years old so i couldn't get another one just like it and i'd be sad to not ride it again.

MARTY
yeah.

TROY
yeah.

as you can imagine, i walk among my house-full of possessions quite differently since this series of thoughts now occupy a white board in my head. it's a little humbling to look at all the things you have and then consider all of the money and effort and energy it took to get them and to know that when you really think on it, they aren't nearly as valuable or meaningful as the minutes (or hours) spent to acquire them. more blank staring.

AUG2013

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