The Weight Of Things

 

 

tree leaves autumn color

 

An elderly neighbor of mine passed away last autumn. I didn’t realize this until the following spring when I saw people pull up in front of her little green house on the corner to carry away her things. First it was the chair, then a couch and a tall lamp.  This came as a surprise as change tends to do. Abrupt and unexpected. She was old and frail and we’d seen less and less of her over the years.  Her son Lenny lived with her and tended to the maintenance of the house and yard. He was a shy and gentle soul who never let anyone get to know him except for the neighborhood cats, which he attracted in droves.

As neighbors go they were my favorites. I like shy and gentle people, the elderly and cats.  I was a bit pissed at myself for not knowing what had happened for almost 6 months.

MM suggested we go over and take a look at the obvious to us now, estate sale that was happening at the little green house on the corner.  I admit I was curious as I had never been inside. I wondered where her son was as I got on my shoes and we headed over.

 

 

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Half the neighborhood was there sprinkled among the other shoppers.   I was stricken at first at how cramped it was, full of people pawing through Angie’s things. I felt funny. I didn’t know her all that well but now I felt sort of protective of her stuff and her memory. I took a quick tour of the downstairs bedroom. I saw her hairbrushes and clothes for sale. It seemed all too intimate, all too strange and all too much.

 

Oh I had spoken to her several times over the years exchanging cards at Christmas and the like. I knew she had lived there for over 40 years and had raised a  family, watched most her children  move away and start lives of their own. I know her husband had died there. I know that she seemed somewhat hard and no nonsense. I know that my preconceived notions about her had allowed me to keep her at arms length like I do with most people.

 

But now it was so different, so final..

 

The rooms were tiny and jam packed with various things. It was overwhelming right away: there was so much. It was difficult to take it all in. The first thing I zeroed in on was a set of commemorative dishes priced at $650 dollars next to a tin of cocoa marked “new” and on sale for one dollar.  Along with old dishes and salt and pepper shakers shaped like Minnie and Mickey, there was a package of paper towels for sale and paper napkins.  Who buys this stuff? I wondered to myself and more importantly who sells this? I was tempted to open the refrigerator to see if there was some old milk for sale but decided against it.

 

old toys

 

MM beckoned me up the flight of steep creaky stairs that led to the upstairs bedrooms, all small and filled to the brim with stuff. Old holiday decorations and kids toys  neatly arranged in boxes. It was hard to believe they had hung on to these items for so long.

The atmosphere was oppressive, it was thick with oldness and stagnation.  I could  feel the 40 years of history there.  This was once a place of life and hopes and dreams and now only lost memories remained. It was as if the remains of a sweetness had stagnated and turned acrid; buried under the heaviness of the years.

It wasn’t long before I had to get out. Needless to say I didn’t buy anything, I wasn’t planning to.

 

want graffiti_geotagged_consumerism_442716_o

 

 

Time passes so quickly. It’s too easy to just go with the flow and let circumstance carry you along.  I am in the midst of that and I sensed my neighbor was too but only she had floated farther than I…and stayed too long, accumulated too many things with too many links to the past. So many that there was scant room for anything or anyone else.

So much stuff with so many memories attached to them. It’s easy to do; hang on to things. I too have that pack rat mentality. Sometimes you never know when you may need something.

 

More importantly, these cherished bits of happiness; intangible memories encased in tangible objects enable us to hold a piece of the past. It seems holding on to these things brings us closer to what we miss.  It’s a little silly when you think about the significance we give to objects, it’s not logical.  But who is logical?  Especially not when we love someone. It wasn’t until I became a parent that I truly understood how important mere objects can become.

 

I have limited myself  a few items, tokens of memory, attached to a person not so much as a time. A few items: a Buddha statue of my father’s and his namesake tree in the front yard.  A tiny doll my teenage daughter played with when she was younger, The blue striped blanket my son came home from the hospital with. I have kept the odd concert ticket, a tiny figurine from when I was 4. There isn’t much.

 

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I’ve been ruminating on this experience all summer. It’s prompted me to re think the way I’m living my life.  How I hang on to needless things. The tangible and the not so tangible. Outdated stuff, old baggage, outgrown ideas and ways of thinking.  How possessions can possess the possessor and how little by little all this stuff we accumulate weigh us down… keeps us from flying.

 

 

Perhaps my neighbor missed her chance to fly, maybe her son being thrown out of the nest so late is in flight now.  At any rate we all must go someway, somehow.  I ponder this as I watch my neighbor’s tree come down foot by foot until it’s gone and I realize it’s been blocking what I see now is a great view of the mountains.

 

~Nancy

 

 

“Letting go gives us freedom, and freedom is the only condition for happiness. If, in our heart, we still cling to anything – anger, anxiety, or possessions – we cannot be free.”
Thích Nhất Hạnh

 

freedom shadow butterfly woman sunset

 

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The War on the Poor

 

POVERTY-AMERICA- poor homeless

 

 

It’s difficult to believe that it’s in everyone’s best interests to support a system that bestows elite status only to a privileged few on the backs of the underprivileged many. Do we think it’s alright because we hope to someday become one of these lucky few; those one percent?

Could it be that the deck is stacked against us poor huddled masses? Could it be The American Dream is only for those who have the greenbacks to pay for it ?  And if you have to ask how much…you can’t afford it.

I suppose it is unfair of me to say that we the people support such a system per se. I mean if we all had a chance to have our say we may find some of our citizens are fed up with all this damn economic inequality that is deepening by the day. Some may dare to suggest, shudder the thought, that some reshuffling may be in order.

You heard it right; I am suggesting that perhaps the all-mighty capitalistic society where markets regulate themselves and corporations are people too, may not be all that it is cracked up to be.  It is a system that rewards avarice. It promotes those who can take, take, take for themselves. It favors unhealthy and unjust competition and creates an atmosphere of dissatisfaction and mistrust. How can we love thy neighbor if we are continually competing with them?  In this kind of game there must be many losers for one winner. And for the most part the winners are chosen not solely by merit but by luck of birth. We do have a Monarchy in this country, in the world. Money is king and those one percent aim to widen the gap between those that have it and those that don’t.

It’s hard to blame anyone; it is the system after all. I think people should be entitled to what they have worked hard for. Industry should be rewarded. I don’t blame people for wanting to hold on to what they have. It seems that the more money some people have the more they worry about losing it. Our society has driven in that fear of poverty and homelessness.

Many of our community governments and police have adapted ordinances and laws that unfairly punish those who can least afford it. It seems as though they are waging an undeclared war on poor people.

Homeless spikes under-bridge in China  Photo:  Daily Mail
Homeless spikes under-bridge in China Photo: Daily Mail

 

 

Where are we going with this? What is happening to our humanity?

 

St. Louis City street sign
St. Louis, Missouri. USA

 

anti homeless bench
Orlando, Florida. USA

We all know this. There’s no surprise here.  The question is what to do? What can we do? We cannot simply tax the rich to the hilt and expect to save ourselves.  Our problems go way beyond that. It sounds great; Make the rich pay for everything.  This causes people to want to hang on tighter to what they have and that makes it all the worse.  And really it’s not very fair or practical. I’d like to offer an answer or at least part of one. The problems are so massive. It’s hard to know where to begin.  I do know it cannot go on this way forever.  The world is changing regardless of what anyone wants. The sun shines and sets on us all alike. Nothing is forever. This cannot go on.  And the ones on top; those one percent…they can’t believe it can last.  Can they?

 

 

“Our economy is based on spending billions to persuade people that happiness is buying things, and then insisting that the only way to have a viable economy is to make things for people to buy so they’ll have jobs and get enough money to buy things.”  ― Philip Slater
“Our economy is based on spending billions to persuade people that happiness is buying things, and then insisting that the only way to have a viable economy is to make things for people to buy so they’ll have jobs and get enough money to buy things.”
― Philip Slater

 

“A man thinks that by mouthing hard words he understands hard things. ”  ― Herman Melville
“A man thinks that by mouthing hard words he understands hard things. ”
― Herman Melville

 

This wild ride we are on is not the least bit sustainable. It is expensive, messy and just plain stupid how we exploit our dwindling resources. Our value system is wonky. We tend to miss what is truly important. We glorify the empty and the greedy. The perfect smile and the right sound bite being sold to us night after night…and we the people lap it up. The great economic machine feeds on us, then spits us out when it’s through. It asks for our children too and doesn’t give a damn about anything but the bottom line.

We are products of our environment. It can be difficult enough to see someone else’s point of view, but to actually feel how they do; to truly understand…that requires a special insight that is hard to acquire in a life insulated from want, from unsightliness, unpleasantness and misfortune. An extreme hardship for one person may be a mere annoyance for another.   I think some of the more fortunate have no idea how difficult it really is to be poor.  It is easier to blame the victim of circumstance rather than the circumstance itself; that the poor somehow deserve their fate. Otherwise that would mean that bad things happen to good people who try really hard and that we are more at the mercy of the fickle finger of fate than we would like to comfortably acknowledge.

 

“There are people in the world so hungry, that God cannot appear to them except in the form of bread.”  ― Mahatma Gandhi
“There are people in the world so hungry, that God cannot appear to them except in the form of bread.”
― Mahatma Gandhi

The rain falls on us all and sometimes a gut of wind can take your umbrella and you are left to get wet. Fate is a funny thing.  Who would have thought? I feel as though we are living in a bad Science Fiction movie with a horrible ending.   What sort of world are we leaving our children?

Something must be done. A lot of somethings must be done….by us all. We cannot afford to wait for it all to trickle down.

Our priorities are skewed but they do not have to remain that way. I think we need a new way of thinking about what success means; what it means to be rich. Perhaps in the future the measure of wealth will be not be what one has but what one is able to give…and we will need more givers in the future if we are going to make it. We are all going to have to work together–all 100% of us.

 

 

 

~Nancy

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“Overcoming poverty is not a task of charity, it is an act of justice. Like Slavery and Apartheid, poverty is not natural. It is man-made and it can be overcome and eradicated by the actions of human beings. Sometimes it falls on a generation to be great. YOU can be that great generation. Let your greatness blossom.”
Nelson Mandela

  save the world postive children kids happy

 

***References and Related Articles***

John Lennon – Working Class Hero (YouTube)

Woody Guthrie- This Land Is Your Land  (YouTube)

**

The Koch Brothers and the Danger of American Plutocracy (billmoyers.com) 
America’s wealth gap ‘unsustainable,’ warns Harvard study that finds corporations are growing richer as workers grow poorer (Financialpost.com) 
The Republican War on the Poor (Huffingtonpost.com)
Homeless Spikes Popping Up All Over the World — Oligarchs Rejoice
GALLERY: WHAT INEQUALITY LOOKS LIKE   (Ted.com)

Fresh Quotes: REBEL

gif flapper dance women vintage
REBELS with Bobs—Flappers’ behavior was considered outlandish at the time and redefined women’s roles.

Rebellion does not have to be violent or messy or loud; there can be quiet rebellion. a shift, a change. An insistent force of good can overcome the dark.  To love can be an act of rebellion, to care about each other in a world that does not care for itself.  To think for yourself in this world; that is an act of rebellion.

Lead me into darkness, I will not follow. Show me the light and I will embrace it. Shine your light and together we shine like the sun.

 

 

 FIGHT the Power and have a nice day!

~Nancy

 

 

 

Johnny Cash “The Rebel
Ann Margret does Freedom Road
Ann Margret does Freedom Road

Rebellion is the only thing that keeps you alive!

~Marianne Faithfull
Clint Eastwood
Clint Eastwood
Graffiti Artist Banksy
Banksy is a pseudonymous United Kingdom-based graffiti artist, political activist, film director, and painter. His satirical street art and subversive epigrams combine dark humor with graffiti executed in a distinctive stencilling technique.

The only way to deal with an unfree world is to become so absolutely free that your very existence is an act of rebellion.

~Albert Camus
Ron Finley is a man who will not sit still and watch a problem take root. Having grown up in the South Los Angeles food desert, Ron is familiar with the area’s lack of fresh produce. He knew what it’s like to drive 45 minutes just to get a fresh tomato.In 2010, he set out to fix the problem. Outside his front door, that is. Ron planted vegetables in the curbside dirt strip next to his home. And quietly, carefully, tenderly started a revolution.
Ron Finley is a man who will not sit still and watch a problem take root. Having grown up in the South Los Angeles food desert, Ron is familiar with the area’s lack of fresh produce. He knew what it’s like to drive 45 minutes just to get a fresh tomato.In 2010, he set out to fix the problem. Outside his front door, that is. Ron planted vegetables in the curbside dirt strip next to his home. And quietly, carefully, tenderly started a revolution.

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THE EARTH NEEDS REBELS!

~David Icke
Martin Luther King Jr. — March on Washington
Martin Luther King Jr. — March on Washington

It doesn’t take a majority to make a rebellion; it takes only a few determined leaders and a sound cause.

~H. L. Mencken
~Frederick Douglas

No matter that patriotism is too often the refuge of scoundrels. Dissent, rebellion, and all-around hell-raising remain the true duty of patriots.”
― Barbara Ehrenreich

 

 

revolution peace is patriotic

The Sounds of Rebellion 

 Johnny Cash “The Rebel” 

Duane Eddy – Rebel Rouser

Irish Rebel Song – Come out and Fight