Love counts for a lot.

ma·te·ri·al·ist [muh-teer-ee-uh-list] 
a person who is markedly more concerned with material things than with spiritual, intellectual, or cultural values.
an adherent of philosophical materialism.
concerned with material things; materialistic.
of or pertaining to philosophical materialism or its adherents.

On the one hand, I don’t believe myself to be “more concerned with material things” than I am with non-material values. On the other hand, I frequently do find myself concerned with material things.

So I’m not *a* materialist, but I have materialist tendencies?

It’s something I’ve been mulling over. For the last year or more, I’ve kept William Morris’ words in my head, especially when I go through “spring cleaning” modes– “Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful” (The Beauty of Life)– and Noah’s going through this extreme minimalism phase where he attempts to own as close to nothing as possible… but I still hold on to things that are neither useful nor beautiful.

Sometimes, it’s just laziness. Like the cup full of pens that I have moved seven times since 2004, even though said pens dried up around 2005. 

But most times, it’s sentimentality. Like the ‘30s- and ‘40s-era watches my grandmother used to own. They aren’t particularly beautiful (except for one) and the wrist straps are worn and frayed (and a little too big), and while all of them still wind up, none of them keep time accurately. I’ve made the excuse that one day, I’ll go to a watchmaker and get them all fixed, but I know in my heart that I’m not holding on to them because of the plan to eventually make them useful again. They could be completely beyond repair, and still I’d take them everywhere with me. 

I love them simply because once upon a time, they used to belong to someone I loved, someone who loved me. I like to make up little stories about them– maybe she was wearing this watch when she met my grandfather, or when they went on their first date, or when they had their first kiss, or when she realized she was in love with him, or when he asked her to marry him. Maybe she used to wear that watch while she prepared dinner– did she check it to see how much longer it would be before my grandfather would return home?– or when my mom was a little girl and they walked hand in hand while crossing the street.

It doesn’t matter if the stories are true, or even close to true. They aren’t really the point, which is– all the watches in the world, and my grandmother chose to own and wear these ones. And I can’t ever remember her wearing them while I was growing up, so she also chose to hold on them– long after they’d stopped working, surely– and keep them safely stowed away. She must have cared about them. And that’s why I keep them near me. Not because they are beautiful, not because they are (or have potential to be) useful, but because they are hers and because she is gone and because I can’t be near her anymore.

Anyway. I’ve lately found more ease in applying the Viridian Design Movement to my life, which recommends one have in one’s life only:

  1. Beautiful things.
  2. Emotionally important things.
  3. Tools, devices, and appliances that efficiently perform a useful function.

Which is basically just a modification of Morris’ wisdom so as to read: “Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful, or feel to be emotionally important.”

But what this all really boils down to is: I wonder, years and years down the road, will there be someone who loves me enough to cling stubbornly to some small and random trinket just because it was mine?

(I really hope it’s not a pen cup.)

Heirlooms. They don’t always exist because they’re worth a lot of money. 


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