Monday, February 28, 2011
A Moving Weekend
Hey, check out the view from my new digs. A classic Brooklyn panorama! Looks like I copped it from a movie set, but it's the real deal. Killer sunsets, and the morning light shining down on the two bell towers is divine. I was delighted to have a saint watching o'er me by night, since I can see the statue from my bed, and he me. That is, until I did a little research and found out that it's Saint Joseph, patron saint of virgins. Crap. I'm thinking of moving my bed to the other end of the loft.
It took me two moving companies to hump all my belongings over here. No kidding–five guys on Saturday, and two on Sunday. Now, I don't think of myself as a person who has a lot of stuff. I'm like the opposite of a pack rat. I read a birthday card and throw it away immediately. If it's handmade, I wait an hour and then throw it away. Love letters, vacation souvenirs, remnants of past lives–all gone to the wind. How did this great accumulation happen? It's a question that's been eating away at me all weekend.
So while seven beefcakes moved my copious piles of crap, I continued to pack and fume and contemplate the nature of existence. Why do we hold onto stuff? What's behind the psychological pull to amass worldly goods? Isn't it enough just to be alive? Do we accumulate objects as a way to validate ourselves?
As I packed up my holy books, I saw a brownish blob between two volumes on the shelf, and poked it with dread. It was a desiccated cockroach, big as yer thumb. Jeez. I lived in that place for almost four years and saw nary an insect or rodent, and here was the godfather of all roaches, who apparently met his end while kneeling in prayer. I couldn't figure it out. I looked for clues, like a little suicide note explaining his angst, but found nothing. It had to have been a spiritual crisis of some sort; after all, a normal roach would've died in a kitchen cupboard, but this bloke went straight for the holy books. I suspect that he was overwhelmed by his options, since he was lodged between the Bhagavad Gita and Book of Mormon. Poor bugger. No respectable roach should ever have to choose between Krishna and Joseph Smith.
But the point...ah yes, the point! He didn't have a bunch of stuff on him. No rolled up canvases, no boxes of expensive art books, no framed masterpieces, nothing. He went out the way he came in, if not a few ounces heavier. Humans are the only insects who glom onto objects and use them to make statements about themselves. What if no one had anything? Wouldn't that be solid awesomeness? Nothing but your breath to call your own? Stripped down to their skivvies, there's not a lot of difference between an heiress decorating her third penthouse, and a homeless person schlepping endless bags of worthless possessions. I find it heartbreaking, this need to cling. There was a time in my life that everything I owned could fit into my Ford Granada. I envy that cockroach, even though his end was undignified. I'm awaiting the autopsy report, which may shed some light on his death, but one thing is certain: he carried no baggage during the Final Crunch.
Would that I could say the same. As things stand now, I could sink a battleship. I'd love to build a large raft, pile all my worldly possessions onto it, and send it out to sea. Liberation! Clarity! Unity! O gracious, what a concept! I'll ponder it today while I unpack.