Some people save everything, some people save nothing, and there are some people in between who ‘collect’ things. I would say I’m a collector, mostly. I have china cat figurines, old books, vintage kitchen stuff, and assorted other oddities. But I save ‘junk’, too. I have some items of strictly personal interest: a union newsletter my father wrote, my grade school and high school report cards, and weirdest of all, a hank of fur from my long-gone cat, Puttin, among other things.
I like my ‘junk’. I may not look at it from one year to the next, but it is like background music in a movie, it is the subtext of my life. I remember school fondly. I loved my father a lot. Puttin, my first cat, was a doll, and I adored her. Those little mementos I have are just small physical reminders of the past. I certainly don’t need them to remember, but I want them there where I can touch them and see them.
But I know that some folks don’t believe in saving anything, and I do understand their sentiment. Life is the here and now, not the past. I know that. ‘Stuff’ doesn’t define who you are, and when you’re gone, it will just be junk that someone has to go through and decide what to do with. That’s fine for them to live that way, but I balk at the notion that one should cast off old possessions once their useful life is gone. Lots of things are useless and yet give us joy.
Like roses. They serve no useful purpose for us humans, and they take time and trouble to care for, but what they give us is unquantifiable. I like looking at roses. I like smelling them, and feeling the petals. Roses are lovely and fragile, like life. Those things that I have that I should perhaps get rid of… they have meaning for me, just like roses do. They give life texture and depth and fill random vacant spots with loveliness that only I understand.
The world is filled with ‘useless’ things that simply take time and are a nuisance, if that’s how you care to look at them. Someday I may want to shed my possessions like a snake sheds its skin, relegating to the dust heap all useless minutiae, but until then, I’ll know it’s there, in a closet, not doing any harm, a part of my life and my memory. And roses will grow up the fence, doing no good, but doing no harm, just filling space and making the world a less sterile place.
What use are roses? None at all. And isn’t that lovely?