Saturday, November 28, 2015

Treasures or Trash?

I decided, even though in the last post I said I would never post my thoughts about this book, The fault in our stars but I decided to do it anyway. 

I bought this book a while ago but couldn't bring myself to read it.  I thought it was going to be a book about kids with cancer; it is, in a way, but it is also so, so much more than that.
I think it depends on what age you are when you read this book and what you have been through, because it has so many different messages and so many important things that to grasp. I will have to read it again and again.

The first thing that was astonishing to me was that Augustus is so honest. He isn't shy and he doesn't beat around the bush; he likes Hazel Grace and he tells her that. I read once that one way to live dangerously was to tell the truth all day no matter what. I think that is how Augustus lives.
When I was reading this book and it came time for these kids to open up about their thoughts and tell this support group what they feared, I was expected something sad and dramatic but then came the bombshell that just floored me.

“I fear oblivion,” he said without a moment’s pause. “I fear it like the proverbial blind man who’s afraid of the dark.”    Augustus Waters

This was me. I have felt like this my whole life. When I was a kid I always confused this feeling with my fear of death but now that I am older and I have been confronted with losing someone close to me, I no longer fear death. I fear dying and that no one will remember me and everything I have ever collected or what was important to me will be worthless.
What Augustus said with total honesty and sincereness was what I had been feeling for so long but could never explain. It also explained why I couldn't put into words how sad I was about my Dad being gone and my not having anything of his to remember him by.
My dad always had "little treasures"; that's what he would call all the little trinkets he would save or find with his metal detector; later, when he barely left the house, his cherished his little pens and address labels with his name on them that you get for free. He would place them all around himself on the bar in his kitchen, and every time I was there he would look at them and ask me if I thought they were neat. These little things made him happy and they were nothing compared to the beautiful things that he had owned in his lifetime. When he died and I kept up my end of the bargain of not going to his funeral as promised, I started to obsess about these "little treasures." Where did they go? Did his wife just throw them away? Did she understand how important this was? I kept thinking about how my dad had worked his whole life and this junk was so important to him, and now that he wasn't there to appreciate it, it would probably just land in the trash. Was that his legacy? His kids and a bunch of shit that wasn't worth anything?

I started collecting stories from his friends and our family so I wouldn't just be sad; I wanted to hear about how he impacted other peoples' lives and what they took away from knowing him.  What was left when all we had were stories and memories?

When Hazel Grace replied to Augustus, I felt relief, but of course a feeling I have had my whole life doesn't go away with one paragraph I read in a book, but it did get me to think about things differently.

"I looked over at Augustus Waters, who looked back at me. You could almost see through his eyes they were so blue. “There will come a time,” I said, “when all of us are dead. All of us. There will come a time when there are no human beings remaining to remember that anyone ever existed or that our species ever did anything. There will be no one left to remember Aristotle or Cleopatra, let alone you. Everything that we did and built and wrote and thought and discovered will be forgotten and all of this”—I gestured encompassingly—“will have been for naught. Maybe that time is coming soon and maybe it is millions of years away, but even if we survive the collapse of our sun, we will not survive forever. There was time before organisms experienced consciousness, and there will be time after. And if the inevitability of human oblivion worries you, I encourage you to ignore it. God knows that’s what everyone else does.”     Hazel Grace


I had already been thinking about minimizing my things before I read this book, but afterwards I felt suffocated so I slowly got rid of clothes and make-up and anything really that I didn't need. At first, I wanted to sell it but then I just started to give it away or donate it because I wanted it to be gone as soon as possible. I downsized my closet from two floor-to-ceiling shelves to one shelf and a few clothes on my hanging rack.
I still have a ton of stuff but I am slowly getting ahead of it and the suffocating feeling is slowly getting better, but it will still take some time.
I am trying to not hold on to things too much and I am trying to be more aware of what I buy.
Is it important? Do I need it or do I just want it to make me feel better? Is it something that can be used over and over again or am I being cheap even though I know it will end in the trash?
I don't think that I could ever become a minimalist because I do like glitter and glitter isn't really something that you need to survive, so that is a no-go, but I would be happy being able to live clutter free.

I do think that traditions are important so I am trying to remind myself that those are the things that my kids will remember when I am no longer here. Maybe they will continue them and when I come to haunt them, which I totally will, I will check and make sure they are doing it right.

PS: I know my dad's wife kept some of the treasures because she knew how important it was to him, but I don't expect her to keep everything, you eventually have to move on.

Talk to you later
Julia

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