For most of my life, I've been aware that 'stuff' doesn't have a lot of value for me... or so I believed. I still don't put a lot of value on material things... or financial excess... or the general population's definition of success. But I am becoming more aware that I nurture a sort of reverse materialism deep at my core.
I still have a set of possessions that I take pride in... possessions that in many ways define who I am... and possessions whose loss I believe would impact my sense of self in a huge way.
No, I don't accumulate money in the bank... I'm not driven to be at the top of any career ladder... I don't think that my home has to be decked out in the very best of everything... and I have a personal aversion to 'labeled' clothing... no incredible art collection. None of the things that generally identify a successful member of society.
But I do have a collection of things that I am somewhat dependent on. There's the drawer full of movie stubs... actually two different drawers... ticket stubs that remind me of the movies I've seen over time... and the people I saw them with. The box of show programs and concert tickets under my bed... with reminders of the trips that included those shows... again the people I was with... the dining experiences that preceeded the curtain call. On the bookshelf in the family room is a book my grandfather used to read to me from... it's nearly 70 years old... and tattered and worn... but my grandfather's hands... and his father's hands... touched and held that book as they read to those little people who were important in their lives. The two rocking chairs in my house are aged and carry marks of the years... but four generations of my family have been rocked to sleep in them and I hope for many more.
The salt and pepper shakers we use for everyday meals are over 25 years old... the enamel is chipped and worn. But they are reminders of the shopping trip that my mother and I made together when I first set out on my own... reminders of the talks we had that day and of the incredible sense of independence that she nourished in me.
The china in my china cabinet isn't valuable in terms of dollars and cents... still in my heart it is valuable beyond measure and will always have that place of honor. My mother was the first female in her family to graduate from high school and my grandmother spent her egg money to buy those dishes for the graduation dinner she had for the extended family after the ceremony.
I've spent years with a level of barely concealed scorn nestled in my heart for those who busily collect stuff and prestige in an effort to define themselves. Today I realize that my collection is just as treasured and coveted... my collection is of life experiences... reminders of the people and history that have contributed to the person I am today. It grounds me... reminding me of just how precious life is... and nudging me to keep making those milestone moments... no matter how small they may seem.