“It’s Not about Me — Questions for a 19 Year Old” (Sketchbook Project, 2014)
“What will you carry” is a question that confronts all ages, of course. As my in-laws empty their house to move to a retirement community, the question is quite literal. Some of the things they will not be able to take are being divvied up among their children. And then, of those same items, we need to re-ask: “save, give away, throw away”? As I continue going room to room (now with a focus on the rat’s nest that is my studio), I am remembering an interesting novel on the topic, in which the protagonist had a hard and fast rule. Every January she surveyed her apartment and if she had not touched the thing during the previous year, she got rid of it (“My Year of Meats“, by Ruth Ozeki). That is more severe than suits me, but the question of maintenance is not: “Do I want to have to keep handling this thing to keep it clean and in its proper spot?” The answer, surprisingly, is often NO.
Young people ask “What will I carry” in an abbreviated way, using the dorm checklist as reference, and if they are reasonably nice, they let their mothers buy them some linens. Now that we know that D. will be going to college in Colorado (big HAPPY news of last week!!), the question gets asked with the logistics of flying in mind.
There are the less literal ways to ponder this, too. When I ask, “What will you carry” of my children, I say it with the deepest hope that they will carry forward many memories of caring, humor, and nurturance from home.
If it is true, as Gretchen Rubin says in “The Happiness Project,” that “[a]ny single happy experience may be amplified or minimized, depending on how much attention you give it,” then I want to figure out how to do this better.