Crumbs From the Corner: Adventures in Woolgathering

Thursday, February 21, 2008

The Real Thing

"Look at all those fancy clothes,
But these could keep us warm just like those.
And what about your soul? Is it cold?
Is it straight from the mold, and ready to be sold?"
-From the song 'Gone' by Jack Johnson

On Friday morning I placed a fresh pear in my Spouse's lunch bag. Nestled in with the meatloaf and cheese, homemade bread and freshly baked marmalade cake, the pear looked mighty fine.
Spouse was extremely busy all that day at work. In the evening as I emptied the lunch bag I found the pear again. I shook the crumbs off, polished it up a little and set it aside.
On Monday morning I put the pear back into my Spouse's lunch bag. He brought it home that evening, as he did on Tuesday. When I saw the forgotten fruit on Wednesday night I had to stop and think.
If I had not given my Spouse a pear for lunch every day for the last week the loss would have been sorely felt.
Spouse would, no doubt, have complained of hunger and of missing the usual midmorning snack. The mere presence of the food kept the pangs at bay. With the pear close to hand Spouse could feel comfort in knowing that it was readily available at any given moment. Lacking the time, however, Spouse simply had no opportunity to indulge in the ripening food. That, then, is where my interest piqued: for all intents and purposes I was really supplying my Spouse with a virtual pear- a proverbial snack. I wonder how far one can go with a psychological crutch, so to speak.
The power of imagination is fierce.
I know from experiencing that carrying money in one's wallet, even that which is not available to be spent, makes a person feel like royalty for a little while.
Hearing one's pockets jingle pleasantly with loose change is strengthening even when that money is destined to ease a debt.
We buy shiny new books and are hesitant to crack them open and turn them into used ones; we save our best shoes, dresses, sweaters for a rainy day. Possessing something uneaten, unspent, unworn or unread gives a rather warm impression of wealth and resourcefulness. We do not dig out the very last spoonful of Horlick's from the jar precisely for the same reason: we wish to tell ourselves that we yet have some.
I shall admit it: that particular illusion is often favourable to our health and wellbeing. I exhort, I know, a good deal about the burden of possessions and the foolishness of not utilising what one has. People have not always been weighed down with material items; our hearts and minds do not know what to do with all that we have, all that is causing our attention span to dwindle. So today, in the midst of too many purposeless objects, we are inwardly overwhelmed. We are not as happy or as comfortable with a house full of expensive toys as we might have expected to be, or as satisfied as the bright and buoyant advertisements promised us we would be.
I am greatly aware of my own aversion to such a lifestyle and of the fact that I comment often on the futility of material things. However, with a pear in hand it came to my mind that if a man can live happily for a week on the faint possibility of one fruit then perhaps all is not eternally lost.
First, we keep our best things safe and use only their presence to inspire us. Soon we may evolve to a point where we no longer need the physical object to support our contentment. Of course, it must be understood that I refer to possessions and not to food. We can do without much but supplies for a staple diet ought to take precedence.
I, with my enormous appetite and hearty love of all things edible, could speak of no less.
People just might be able to return to a way of life that commends the ability to linger on the memory of a taste or a sight, and on perception that overcomes need for physical possession. All else can fall asunder but our minds are potent, even on the most rainy of days.

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