I’ve not had much time for blogging lately, but I’ve carried on with my experiment of paying attention to giving. Tonight, at yoga class, my cocktail dress returned. A few weeks ago one of my yoga-mates mentioned she had a party to go to that required a vintage tea dress. She was going to buy one on-line. I just happened to have a lovely vintage, Italian wool tea dress in the most brilliant shade of green hanging neglected in my wardrobe. I can’t remember the last time I wore it. Next week I brought it along to class and handed it over to my colleague. Not a gift in the strictest sense, a loan, but still very much in the spirit of the sharing economy.
I like the idea that the dress went on an outing without me. I got into Tom Robbins’ books in my late teens. In Skinny Legs and All, a couple of the major characters are objects. In particular, I remember a can of beans and a spoon. These objects go on a journey, have adventures of their own. It caught my imagination. When Mike and I came to Edinburgh, a storyteller friend of ours moved in to take care of our Canadian house. At the time, we were only planning on being away for a couple of years. During her tenancy, the house had a life of it’s own, hosting storytelling house concerts. Later, some permaculturalists moved in and the garden became a staging ground for workshops and learning. It’s been a community perennial vegetable nursery too.
From the orientation of a money economy, which emphasises accumulation and possession, we tend to approach objects as being inanimate, solid, as having meaning only through our ownership. However, we could just as easily tell another story, that we are waypoints on the journeys that objects make. All “human” artifacts start as raw materials. They pass through many hands, many processes and many places before they become ours and they will all pass out of our hands to rubbish bins, recycle bins, charity shops and friends. Even if we hang onto them until the end of our lives, when we are interred, we move beyond the ability to own. In what sense are they inanimate? In what sense to they depend on our ownership for meaning? In what sense are they ours?
See followthethings.com for some of these journeys.