In an Effort To Be Productive

The desire to make new things gnaws at my heart when I am not moving,
I try to eliminate the guilt that I feel with distractions, small batches of laundry, and random bouts of cleaning.. so, I stripped my bed of it’s sheets, got the washer running and proceeded to attempt to make some space on “my side” of the closet

The closet that I share with my grandmother, who has become particularly obsessed with her stuff since my pop-pop died. Obsessed, not in the way of clenching photographs or lamenting when she sees furniture from their old bedroom, more so obsessed with unendingly vocalizing that through our moves and the process of building a new home she is missing all of her “Stuff”. This closet is a small representation of how many items are jammed into corners of our living spaces, wrapped up in newspaper, hidden in the dark, only to be found out when someone wrestles through the disorder to open up boxes and find sentimental items mixed with literal trash. I believe she’s formed this relationship with her belongings because it makes her feel she can hold on to the past, she falsely associates the goodness of a life well lived with the culmination of material things.

After throwing away three pairs of my worn out, too-small, or too-big shoes, folding clothes that had slipped from their hangers, and awkwardly setting aside a glass house cradling a frog figurine, a broken violin, and a giant plastic wrapped comforter, I found something different.

Something that did not irritate me, something that had a presence and eeriness to it –
My pop-pop’s toiletry bag sat there solemnly, a slightly oversized red-brown leather rectangle with curved edges and a zipper down the center

It was heavy, a weight that went beyond physicality and laid on my soul
I decided to move forward anyways in my new minimalist fashion – to look at this item with out overwhelm of emotion and solely for what it was – an old bag filled with various items… sticky cough-drop wrappers, expired Tums, an unopened package of floss…
but then there was an oiled shaving brush,
then there was a half used travel shampoo bottle from a beach house we visited many autumns ago,
then there was his cologne – and my sentiment returned in the form of a fiery blanket at the base of my throat and blurring tears behind my eyelids

This stiff leather bag was carried, stuffed, and used by someone I love dearly
and as unnecessary as many of these items were then, and are now
they smell of him, and they make me think of mortality and the fragility of time

My pop-pop was an entrepreneur, a fixer, a joker, a musician, he loved others and was loved by them,
he was stubborn, he was compassionate, he was thankful — always

I remind myself that these personal items, even with all their very real and human characteristics are not what makes my memory and love for him live on

I kept the floss (because I needed some) and a key (which I will eventually discard because I doubt I will be able to find what it unlocks) And for now, I’ll  keep the cologne, because it’s scent will inspire a sticky sadness that allows me to visit lost days then reorients my eyesight on heaven above.

The extent of my minimalism ends at photographs, I cannot bring myself to discard of them.
They are time – frozen, and not just the history of myself or my family but of the entire human existence
We make up the world, so this photograph of my grandparents in July of 1947 does not only exist for them, but also as a representation of that day in the past
which may have held a memory of happiness, or an event that disrupted the hope that we often place in this world when we wrongly identify glimpses of heaven on earth

This desire to rid my surroundings of clutter,
to let go of material things that don’t add value or serve a purpose,
is not solely for a clean area that settles the OCD in me but it’s more so a desire to simultaneously live in the very moment that is happening with respect of the past

To give space for my mind to see beyond things and stuff, and recognize a variety of more important matters –
the importance of being with each other,
the necessity to disconnect from irrelevant occurrences,
to let go of thoughts of past and future and solely be present
of making money not because of the fear of not having enough, but with the intent to use it as a tool to further what is truly deemed invaluable in this life
of spending money with the goal of investing into a larger, more pure notion, not just a temporary satisfier or filler of a hole dug by advertising and inadequacy

– Are you missing those around you because you are missing someone gone? Are you enveloped in comparison instead of creating authentic experiences? Do the things that you own serve a purpose? Is that purpose worthwhile? Or do the things that you own cause conflict, in your household or within yourself? Are the things that you own made well? Or was it at the expense of someone else, someone less fortunate that yourself? Are the things that you own stealing peace of mind and potential creative thoughts? Does the way you make money reflect what you value? Do you need all the money that you make? Are you forfeiting personal contentment for status or justification by those around you? –

We have decided that these questions should be less common then “how are you?” and “enjoying the weather?” for the sake of convenient conversation, but if we really want to know the state of our being and the wellness of those around us, we need to accept that our lifestyles cannot be compartmentalized, it all works together, each thing makes up who we are and the quality of our living

My pop-pop’s toiletry bag could’ve stayed in the closet, could’ve been found by someone else, but In An Effort to Be Productive, I discovered it and developed a train of thoughts that would not have been there before

As I move on in my attempt to rid my life of the unnecessary, I will
remind myself that things are not what make up the personalities of people,
that our accumulation of stuff is not the reason we maintain memory,

That which does not hold purpose, could still hold meaning, but I am meant to be alive now
to be awake now, to be real and true now

The past of my own and the history of my family has made me dimensional,
given me perspective and carried me through time
I desire the validity of my character to be made up by attributes, to escape the distractions and crowded closets, to eternalize memory with out the need for physical items

“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth,
where moths and rust destroy”

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