June 12th, 2007

buddha virgin

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

I have heard many times about people having a "second childhood" and we've all heard folks admonished to "act their age."

When you're a kid, you're 100% potential. Everything you see around you in the world is yours for the asking, and your achievements are limited only by your own ambition. That seems to last most people until they have to begin working for a living (after college for many of us, after high school for a lot of folks). You suddenly realize that the choices you have are not only limited by the realities of time and money (most people never have quite enough of either to live their dream lives), but they begin to be hemmed in by the choices that they made just a little earlier. "If only I'd majored in chemistry/stayed single/learned to play ukelele when I had the chance, I would be happier." You go through a phase of mourning for the loss of those dreams that will never come true, and for some people, it ends there.

For others, though, there's the next phase. Once you've accepted your reality as it is, you begin to see the possibility within it. As long as you're alive, things are never as dire as you might have thought them. I think I've hit that stage where I'm feeling, once again, full of possibility. That possibility does, however, come at a cost.

I've had to reduce the number of tasks I set myself if I want to achieve ANY of them. I'm human and need to eat and sleep (and blog, apparently). That means that I can't do all the projects I constantly spin off for myself. I've become much more okay with that and have started to allow myself to vicariously enjoy other people's projects and art more fully.

I have to keep careful tabs on the stuff I do, always making sure that the next project I take on fits in with my overall life plan. Pottery making - fun? Sure. Money making? Not really. Time/resource consuming? Yup. Do I have a pressing need for the product of this project? No. Pottery making goes by the wayside, regardless of my own perceived need to churn out charming mugs. Writing, chicken keeping and dog ownership have made the cut. I'm wary of much else these days.

I'm terrible at throwing things away. "I might need it sometime!" has been my battle cry since the very first time my mother told me to clean up my room and throw out some of that junk.

I have to say, never throwing anything away has stood me in good stead. Do I need a packing box? A non-functioning extension cord (yes they do have uses)? A bit of plywood, an old potty chair, some old scraps of neoprene? I have all those things. What I don't have is a basement. This is the downside.

I don't think, though, that I will ever entirely throw out all that stuff for two reasons: one, it's inspirational to keep it around. I can look at the bits of cloth and plastic and electronic parts and dream about what I will make of them. Two, on a regular basis, I have a need that someone else might head to the store to fill, whereas I can just go "shopping" in my basement.

My challenge will be to separate the useless crap (i.e., the program from a play I attended in 1993 with my second ex-husband) from the actual treasures (the box of old charging stations and various plug connectors from every defunct gadget in our house) and make a few trips to the dump.

This is where the rubber meets the road. Now that I've narrowed down my list of activities and winnowed the wheat from the chaff in my basement, it's time to get those two crazy kids together - it's time to HEAD TO THE DUMP. Take the stuff that can be recycled (our dump has the best recycling center in the world), dump the stuff that can't.

Then, my dream is to take a look at the challenges that exist in my life today and use the stuff I've got to meet those challenges. I'm not sure how, but where there's a will and a basement full of shit, there's a way.