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The Value of Things


I’ve been thinking lately about the value of things. Things in my life. Things that I’ve been carrying around with me. My photos. My senior project. My electronics crap I bought at Radio Shack back in the nineties. Man, those resistors and junk cost me over $100 bucks. I remember specifically thinking, “But it’s worth it. I’ll learn how to use these things and then I’ll use them for real projects once I learn how in colllege.”

Thing was, that actually did end up helping, in a wierd sort of way. I learned a little bit about circuits, and how resistors and capacitors and potentiometers worked. I didn’t quite get diodes and transistors, but I had a passing familiarity, and that made my electronics courses relatively easier….

But back on things… I’ve carried my things with me for a long time now. Longer than most people keep things, I imagine. I have several books I’ve carried with me since Montana. Come to think of it, I’ve got a number of things that have followed me from the old MT.

A few:

I have some blue cups, bowls, and plates Mom bought me on my way to college. I first laid eyes on them days before leaving Montana for the forseeable future.

I have my backpack, which I’m proud to say has been with me through every backpacking trip I’ve done since before 2000. I doubt many people can say that their first personal backpack has been their true and steady companion for that long. (And not for lack of trying. I try on packs every time I go to the store, and not one has matched the comfort level I have with my pack.)

There’s some other camping gear, too. None of which is really that good anymore, but is still perfectly serviceable, and I don’t use it enough to bother replacing it.

A few favorite tee shirts hang out in the bottom of my dresser drawer. One of them is probably my favorite shirt, but is just not the sort of thing I’d wear to work most of the time. (Funny thing is, it’s become very indie-retro now, but that’s another topic entirely.)

I’ve held on to a few rag-tag bits of ski gear. My skis. My boots. My snowboard boots (NOT the board and bindings — those got replaced… the original is still taking up space in the garage back home, for all I know). I still have a sweater that I bought in… oh… 1998 or so. I vividly remember the price of that sweater was $5.55. I got five or six of the things in various sizes and colors. It was my style. But that one large grey one was the last of the bunch. Been through at least ten ski seasons now. Probably only washed three or four times. It’s got a big whole under the armpit that I keep meaning to darn up. But I don’t know how to darn, and it doesn’t show under the rest of my ski gear.

I also have my ski gloves that I bought at Gull Ski way back in the day. They’ve been packed out and down right cold for a couple of seasons now, but I still love them. I’ve got another pair that are warmer now, but when it’s not cold my old gloves are still the clear favorite.

I still have a ski coat — a damn nice one — from a good company that never really took off. The hood is a bit small, but I’ve adapted to it. I actually have an outer layer I like better now, but this one is still in the running on a cold day. I bought the old coat the season before I went to college. It was on sale, only $99.99.

I have my clarinet, played it since fifth grade. Plastic? Fantastic. But it served me fine. I only wanted to be better than average in band. I mean, I wanted to do as well as I could, but I only put in 50% effort. The rest was pure, cheeky hubris and luck that got me through.

I’ve got a few driver installation CDs and, oh bugger, I still have the damn computer they came with deep in the closet. How many moves has that gone through? Montana to San Luis, San Luis to Grover Beach, Grover Beach to San Luis, San Luis to Santa Barbara Olive Street, Santa Barbara Olive Street to… well that’s five, anyway.  More than any computer should make.  I’ve had other computers come and go over the years, but that one’s certainly been an albatross.

I’m sure I have a couple of toiletries squirreled away that have followed me over the years. There are some among the backpacking gear, of course. A roll of emergency toilet paper in a ziplock bag that never got used up (thank God!) comes to mind. But just past week I found a Benadril spot-dabber that had expired over ten years ago. Somehow that had fallen into the deep dark crevases at the back of the medicine cabinet and had been scooped up with the rest of the last odds and ends you throw into a box at the very end of packing. Several times. (Hmm… remind me to check the medicine cabinets later….)

I also have a number of papers and things. Some records that I have to keep that started back in high school, some bits of memorambilia that don’t weight much, so I keep hauling them around. Most of them probably don’t matter anymore. But it’s a pain to deal with them, and there’s always the nagging “what if?”

There are a couple of follow-ons, too. Things that I gatherered from Montana on subsequent trips. The family camera that no one was using. That has sentimental and collector’s value. Little bits of my past that I pulled in. Mementos of another time.

As I look around at my possessions I realize that I’m keeping bits of all of my life with me, not just my life when I left Montana. Things I have acquired since then. DVDs. Books. Trinkets. Papers. Cameras. Bicycle parts. I know where they all came from. For whatever strange reason I remember where I got most of them. They have a back story. I attach too much value to some, and ignore the value of others.

So I think I need to gain a better perspective of the value of things, so I can choose how to spread the value of my posessions in the most effective manner. And if that means culling the flock of physical memories that I carry with me, so be it.

I’ve got to get rid of some stuff.

I think I could stand to see the Radio Shack electronics bits go, no matter what.

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