From the outset, it was clear that it was a losing battle - perhaps
a worthy attempt, but essentially hopeless. How could I possibly
give a voice to the myriad objects that intersect with, and for
a fleeting moment give focus to, my life. The objects which I accumulate
are almost countless, and each has its own story to tell. Obviously,
I have to pick and choose. Some receive their fifteen minutes. Others
are destined to be forever forgotten without even that.
Does it really matter? In the long run, of course not. But once
we start focusing on objects that otherwise don't command any attention,
which are, almost by definition, forgettable, each one seems to
demand equal treatment, each yells out "me too". Yet once
again, it's a losing battle.
And that basically explains why, with the conclusion of the second
year of this project, I thought it was time to bring it to a halt.
After all, I had hoped that I hadn't only inventoried all the objects
I've accumulated over the years, but had also examined various ways
of saving and remembering, had used these objects as a diving board
into the pool of reflection. But even the various forms of reflection
can repeat themselves, and when I felt this happening it seemed
a logical time to call it quits.
But of course it's more than just that. As long I'm able to focus
on a limited number of objects, each receives its own special attention.
When, toward the end of this summer, we started work on a major
remodeling of our home, I found myself inundated with more objects
than I could deal with. Preparing for remodeling meant emptying
the house of just about everything - putting lots of objects in
boxes for afterwards, while even more - mostly items saved in the
boidem in the hope of one day having time to go through them - when
straight to the trash. It was clear that too much had accumulated
for me to possibly devote the time to carefully picking and choosing
what to save. When you're drowning in objects, sometimes the only
feasible plan of action is to empty the pool.
My inability to give
everything that I threw out (or saved) its moment in the sun strengthened
my feeling that this was the proper time to conclude this project.
But even as I frantically tried to get rid of as much as I could
without too many qualms of guilt, I realized that an additional
year of objects, each with a particular story to tell, had materialized
before me. As I walked to the trash, only one hand held what I was
throwing out - the other held the digital camera so that I could
preserve images of significant items (and, in the end, too many
of the items themselves). These images comprise the third year of
this project. Each month focuses on an object or set of objects
uncovered as I cleaned out the house. Each represents a
piece of history, either personal, public, or both. But first,
we have to recognize the truth of being swamped with more than we
can deal with.