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Monday, September 9, 2013

Value

And I am not referring to the relative darks and lights of the colors we all work with. And then again perhaps I am. But for the past couple of weeks I have been waist deep in trying to figure what things I value.  This is not about the big intangibles, like the relationships with my family and friends that I hold so dear, but this is about things.

I have been sorting through "stuff," deciding what to put in our barn for the moving sale.
Since we are moving to a smaller house and the goal is to simplify, any argument for keeping something must be based on something stronger than pure sentiment, a process that is perhaps a good exercise for making design decisions in a quilt. The chair, for example, that I have had since I was a teenager has lovely carvings on it but is downright uncomfortable to sit in for more than fifteen minutes. It is among the items in the barn picture. 

Some decisions are easy: things like dishes and silverware are coming with us because we need them and we like the sets we have; things like the dining room set will not come with us because they simply do not fit in the new space. But there are so many items where the decision is more difficult--and then there are the surprises. As I cleaned out a small (about 2 feet long and about a foot high), old (antique may be too sophisticated a word for it) wooden chest that held an amazing number of videotapes, all but three of which were headed for the trash, I planned on dusting it off, having Tom repair the piece of trim on the lid that had fallen off once again, and carrying it to the barn.  But when I closed the lid on the empty box, I ran my hand over it and felt the smooth, well-worn wood and the place where someone had, at one point in its life, hammered a series of circles into the top for some reason. And I really looked at it.

I had already begun to evaluate it from the moving sale point of view and was not sure anyone would buy it or pay much for it. But I felt deeply that I wanted to keep it. And I began to see just a bit more clearly what I value--not what the market values, or the majority of people or even my best friends--but what connects with me. It's old, it's well used, it's wonderfully textured, it's made of something that changes, disintegrates, and will continue to do so, the color is rich and mature but not uniform--all these things contribute to why I value this piece; yet each falls short of a complete explanation. Ultimately I can't put it into words but it's a very important understanding, particularly when we are all so constantly battered with other people's opinions urging us in directions that may be good for someone else but may not be the best ones for us.

"Do what you love and the money will follow" goes the too often repeated maxim. But first we must come to know what we love. So perhaps when I am finally finished culling my life's detritus and can return to focusing on my stitching, I will bring just a small bit of new wisdom to it.

And if you have managed to read these ramblings to the end, thanks for the company!

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