Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Perfectly Good

I'm in the middle of a conundrum. I feel like two parts of me are pushing and pulling. Back and forth they go, with me like Stretch Armstrong in the middle. And most of it has to do with the phrase, "it's perfectly good."

My grandparents grew up in the Depression era, and I saw this concept reflected in many ways around their house: containers full of bag ties (the plastic ones, not the twisty ones), old furniture, scraps of fabric from clothes made for my uncles. We would periodically try to get rid of stuff, and be met with the phrase or its sister, "I might need it for something."

The pack rat gene did not pass me by. My mother got it, and so did I. This makes trying to sort through the clutter of my parents' house difficult. If mom agrees to get rid of something, I may just say, "well, we'll keep it for me when I get my own place." Not helpful.

Here's where the push and pull comes in. On one hand, there is the simple living movement, as well as my interest in the Compact, both of which espouse paring down clutter and waste and unnessesary things in our lives and homes. Ok, I'm all for that. I really don't need two dozen plastic containers, or years of old magazines, or sports equipment I haven't used since high school.

However, then the stricter environmentalist in me chimes in. Hold on a second, it says. Maybe you can donate or sell some of that stuff (containers from the store, sports equipment), or recycle what you can't (magazines), but what about the other stuff that can't be recycled, or that could be repurposed to avoid having to buy something--even more timely given our current economy?

So begins the argument for "it's perfectly good." Every time I toss an empty toilet paper roll, I think that maybe some school, church, or other kid's group could use them for crafts. I look at plastics that can't be recycled in my area and think they might be useful for something. What makes it worse is that as I delve more into art, I think "I can use this for art!" I read articles about artists (quilt artists, mind you) who use everything under the sun from plastic bags to dryer lint in their pieces.

Ok, so here's what it comes down to for me: not could an item be used, but will it--and how soon? Will the item simply join the stash of Unused Potential? Could someone else be using it actively instead allowing it to use up space and collect dust until Someday arrives?

With that in mind, I continue on my delicate balancing act between saving everything just for the saving, and filling landfills by throwing everything away. In future posts I'll periodically address one item or category of items to see what use it has besides its original intent. And if any of you have especially creative uses for things, please share!

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Monday, July 28, 2008

Bird by bird

Again, I have been remiss in my posting. But no longer (I swear)! Today's post title refers to an Anne Lamott book on writing, and not only am I going to go back and re-read that book, but I'm taking some of her advice and disciplining myself to write every day. So, this blog will hopefully really start getting some good posts. Fear not, dear subscribers, I will not be necessarily writing on this blog quite that often, but splitting my words between here and my blog at Everyday Citizen, to whom I promised lots of entries with my loads of summer free time...and who have also been neglected. I also have tentative plans to begin a second blog focused solely on my art adventures as those develop. Stay tuned for more on that as it comes to fruition!

Now, due to the discipline of writing daily, my posts may sometimes (often?) be shorter and less substantial. But they will be something, anyway, and I hope with time they will just get better and better, and lead us all to deeper reflection on faith, social justice, and life's crazy moments!

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