No rain last night, despite my hopes. We didn’t even get rain today. It thundered a little bit, but no rain came. Last evening, I ended up joining up with my friends, and we had a good time. Surprisingly good – for everyone, I believe. I don’t always think much of them, and they don’t always think much of me. But last night, we were all in good form. And even though I was flagging a bunch of times, I managed to make it through to a decently social hour, and then bow out gracefully when they all decided to head out to do some serious drinking.
Not for me. Not last night. I’m glad I went. And I’m glad I got home at a decent hour. I would have liked to have slept more, as I got about 7+ hours of sleep. And it would have been nice to get a nap this afternoon, but I had a bunch of things I had to do around midday, so by the time I got home and had my lunch, it was already 2:30, and I was getting my second wind.
So, I cleaned out my study. Cleared out the supplies storage closet, rearranged a bunch of things, got rid of a bunch of stuff, culled and weeded and trashed things that were either broken or I should have ditched long ago. It felt really good to get rid of a lot of the stuff that’s just taking up space. It was also somewhat bittersweet to be looking through all my old stuff, realizing — yet again — how modest my life has been over the years.
The vast majority of my possessions, you see, are toys. Playthings. Little objects that my spouse has bought me over the years to brighten a few moments. We don’t have a lot of possessions of much consequence. Furniture and dishes and major appliances are quite basic, not very posh, and in some cases mix-and-match from years of picking things up and carrying them along with us, without ever buying matched sets of much of anything. Maybe that’s just our style, but the effect is very childlike. I comfort myself by watching Big Bang Theory and reassuring myself that I am not alone in my childlike delight in toys
And then there are my books. Those are very adult (no, not that kind of adult). Even after my fall in 2004 when I stopped being able to read for several years, I never got rid of my books. My office is full of them. And I got more, since 2004, being practically addicted to the sense of reading, even if I’m not retaining everything. Fiction — lots of fiction — and non-fiction neuropsychology, anatomy, sports training, and various reference books, as well as some art and finance stuff. Samurai training, military history, Zen and Taoist studies, and trauma/TBI research. An eclectic mix, needless to say.
And then there is the computer stuff. I have nine computers in my study (not all of them working) — four desktops, three of which are all but useless, being at least 10 years old and not having enough space on their hard drives for any modern programs, and not having enough power to run anything modern. The one desktop in my study that is halfway decent has a hard drive that sounds like it’s dying whenever I turn it on. I may buy a new hard drive for that one. We’ll see. I also have five laptops, only one of which is really working now — I have a clunky old Macbook from circa 2006 that crashes intermittently and has a battery with the lifespan of a housefly, a really old laptop that weighs at least 10 lbs and won’t work unless it’s plugged into its brick of a docking station, two old Thinkpads, both of which have parts that are broken, so together (when I take them apart and re-assemble them) they will turn into one functioning one… and then I have the one I’m typing on right now, which is okay, if you don’t mind the screeching, whistling sound that comes from the CD drive for no apparent reason at odd times. I don’t so much collect computers as fail to throw them out.
Yeah, I’m a geek, alright. And a forgetful geek, at that. Going through my collections of cables and connectors, I found multiple patch cords, usb cables, connectors, extensions, etc. – which I must have bought on different occasions. I can remember many times wondering where I put such-and-such a cable or connector, and when I couldn’t find it, I went out and bought another one. Now I’ve collected them all in one place (I think) and put them together in a clear plastic bag, clearly visible for when I’m looking for some-such doo-dad. If these things were worth any amount of money, I could Craigslist them and make a pretty penny. But alas, they’re a dime a dozen, so I just have a dozen. Of each.
No worries, though. At least now I have them all in one place, and I know where I can find them.
It’s funny — going through all my objects and collections, I realize that I’ve spent much of my life up in my head, trying to sort things out. And I’ve gone through a lot of different phases of interest. I’ve been fascinated by medieval European military history, archaeology, neurology, gonzo fiction, computer programming and scripting, biochemistry, art and color theory, religion, poetry, essays, travel journalism… you name it, I’ve probably followed it at one time or another.
Of course, it was all just entertainment for me. Nothing more came of it, other than to round out my perspectives and world view with information that you don’t find just anywhere. It’s been good. Largely recreational and serving no specific pragmatic end. But still good.
It’s interesting — I appear to have reached a point where I never thought I’d be: questioning the value of learning for learning’s sake. All my life, I’ve learned because I loved to learn, not because of any “pragmatic” value or end to it. Learning was an end in itself, and it never failed me. But I seem to have failed it.
Up till now, that is. I do think that’s changing, as I sit here in my study — where I have not really sat for long periods of time, since sometime last year. This room kind of got turned into a holding pen for all the things I didn’t want to deal with — bills and odds and ends and to-do items and junk I didn’t feel like thinking about. I just put it in here on my desk and walked away, and that was that. And each time I came in, it felt a little more strange, a little more foreign, as though a part of myself were being shunted off to the side and ignored.
Which, of course, it was. This is my thinking space, my own space, and it’s where all the things I love but haven’t had/taken the time to pay attention to, are stashed. It’s where I’ve spent some pretty revealing hours, when I was first coming to terms with my TBI issues. I’ve got a bunch of binders full of notes I took and papers I printed out and studied, from the first couple of years coming to terms with my TBIs. I haven’t had the nerve to look them over, but they’re there (in my newly organized storage closet) whenever I want to check them out. I have my fantasies about someone going through my notes after I’m gone, and making a study of my life… I’ve always had that little fantasy in the back of my mind, ever since I was a kid and knew — just knew — there was something quite different about me. But as usually happens, folks will probably go through all the stuff, realize how much there is… and how little time they have… and the batch will go into the recycling bin. At the very least, I hope someone can heat their cold hands with the fire from all the pages, if it comes to that. I just hope it does some good, somewhere.
But even if all my studies and research never gets past my own study, it has still helped me, so that’s something.
Going through everything, and asking myself – for real – if I am truly attached to a lot of the stuff I have… it’s been a good exercise. And it’s left me with a feeling of both broken promises and failed hopes and dreams, and an appreciation for the life I’ve managed to live, despite setbacks and dashed expectations, and all the false starts and dead ends over the years. My life has NOT taken the recommended route, and I don’t have the kind of cookie-cutter life that the television networks seem convinced we should all aspire to. I’m not sure I have the kind of life that *I* aspire to.
But I always end up in this frame of mind when I clean and clear away clutter from my past. Things I’ve forgotten come back up in front of me again, and I remember more than I thought I would. There are things I had hoped I would forget forever, but now cannot. And there are things I don’t remember at all, but wish I could. I can’t remember why I saved something, or if it should matter to me, or what meaning it once had for me.
And the waters close behind me over and over… long day, long afternoon, going into a long night.
Speaking of which, it’s late. I’m back in my study, in a space that I’ve had for myself – luxury – for nearly 10 years, now. For this I am grateful. And for everything that’s brought me here… for all that, I am grateful too.