In my house there are things I love. A little silver goblet that once belonged to my grandmother and that she took everyday with her to the bathroom to brush her teeth. A large sterling silver plate hand hammered that reminds me of my life in Peru and my friend Isabelle. Three orchids, waiting to bloom, these delicate but sturdy spray of flowers that last a few months; and many handmade objects by artists whose work I love. Many paintings on the wall, and my books, my brushes and beads, cherished objects that delight me everyday and remind me that this is where I love to be -- this is my home.
Objects have the powerful effect of bringing with them all sorts of memories and enable us to go back in time and relive past moments that once meant a lot to us and maybe still do. My collection of blue glass was mostly built in Lima, Peru when I once went visiting the studio of a woman artist whose work seemed to bring me back to the Caribbean sea with its vivid colors and shades. I put them in my window and enjoy the warmth of the early morning sun shining through all the blues of my youth.
Why do we enjoy things so much? What appeal do they have on our psyche and our soul?
Some things have an affinity with us, they call to us and have a certain appeal that is irresistible. It can last a lifetime or just some months. It facilitates the exchange of money and feeds the pockets of so many who create such objects or make them in their studio or their factories.
I have some paintings by my friends Deb Komitor, Laura Reilley and Tracy Miller who delight me everyday. Some of my old oil paintings are a constant reminder of the passing of time and the beauty of the past as well as the anticipation of what could happen in the future. What will these artist create next? What will happen in their life to make them tackle a piece of clay or ceramic? My husband and I have some dishes and bowls and cups by the local and much loved artists Tina and Ken Riesterer and every time I touch them, I can see both of their faces laughing or talking to me. I go back to my time at the artist Co-op and there they are, sitting with me in the group.
Then there are old things that bring people back to us like a gift of the past. I have a little bonnet hand crocheted by my grandmother that is so tiny it could fit over an orange. Yet it was my hat when I was just a baby and it reminds me of my roots, my beginnings and the huge trajectory of my life with its turns and bumps and its uniqueness. My parents are alive in little frames in my studio and look at me from the high shelf. My poet uncle casts his sad eyes on me and I look back at him with gratefulness.
There is nothing like an album of photos to bring old memories back and faces we recall or have almost forgotten, brought to us by the magic of the camera and the old films now obsolete. Many of my friends are gone but their photos tells me of their presence on the planet and their place in my heart. The man who brought me a box of live butterflies is captured in black and white and looks at me from my studio. My ring collection is a testimony of my travels and the presence of my two husbands ex and new who have given them to me and put me everyday with the choice of wearing one or the other. And there is the large tapestry from Thailand that I have hanging in the back of my bed. It is full of life and shines with gold and rust and I remember the trip my daughter and I took to Cambodia and Bangkok and my complete awe at the population's sense of exquisite beauty and incredible, unique craftsmanship.
But of course things can also bring us to materialism; the compulsion to buy and buy just to accumulate more things than we can live with. Our country here is a good example of this as ahead of every season, the stores fill up with so much goods made in China or any other country. The store's owners are good at merchandising and tempt us with their goods. Such a variety of things, of clothes, of household items to entice us to spend our money while we accumulate more objects. How do we resist?
Could we recycle some of our goods? Send them off to others who might need them? I am in the process of getting rid of some of my books. I realize that they have no place in my life anymore. I have piles of them in my house ready to be given away and make room for the new. Will I get rid of my cherished objects? I do not know yet. The connection is there but can fade away. It will be time to let go. I have had to let go of many things in my lifetime. Having lived in many countries, some things could not be kept. I hope they made some others happy. With every move, I have given away some great amount of things and acquired some new ones. Yet some of my cherished objects still are with me, stimulating memories, they linger and bring me some joy.
Like one of my large paintings that I painted when very young; a composite of the old country with its beauty and symbols it stands now in my living room symbolizing my roots; powerful and bold, an image of what I search for in life.
Some objects become a part of us. They make us recall, they make us revere, they make us admire, or they make us smile or be grateful. No one can tell us to get rid of them; only a signal from inside that says "It is time now." Yet there are some people who can live with just what they need everyday and want nothing else to take their attention away. Monks or nuns, ascetics, or simply people that hold all their life within and need not the constant presence of things. I am not such a person. The things in my life are chosen because of a calling from my soul and will stay with me until it will be time to pass them away. We take nothing with us when we die. Our cherished things go and delight someone else or leave our heirs in complete indifference. Life keeps unfolding while more things get acquired..
Indeed, we are of two worlds at the same time and the material is a part of us no matter how spiritual we are.
Copyright 2010 Micheline Brierre
Edited by Barry Kaplan