Your Clipping Service Never Sleeps

When I was a girl, my father had a large library of piano music. Every day, he would choose one or two pieces to sight read, getting great satisfaction out of what he perceived of as a rescue operation. He imagined that no one had played these hoary old tunes for years and years, and he was doing them a service by allowing them to give voice once more.

I like to rescue things, too. I like to hold on to things. On any given flat surface in our house (windowsill, end table, refrigerator door) there are rescued things – or rather, things I like to look at, that remind me of this or that. I’ve got a blue plastic toy motorcycle on my windowsill that was Tex’s when she was a boy, right next to a shiny red rock I got after Seth’s birth, to remind me how brave I was. Owen’s art work from preschool — a star mobile — hangs in my study (he’s in 6th grade).  My metal file cabinet has a postcard of two stroppy gals advertising a local roller derby, along with a sign I liberated from a telephone pole that says NO PARKING AT ANYTIME (see my post of the same name for more on that). Said file cabinet is full of files of wonderful things, too – I tell ya! I could go on, but I think you get the idea.

The other day, I finally had a little time and energy to go through a huge stack of clippings, many still in the original envelopes. These are clippings my parents send me at quite a brisk clip – as my mother penned on a sticky in one envelope, “Your clipping service never sleeps!” I do try to OHIO (Only Handle It Once – a useful concept I learned from a book about adult ADD), but when I don’t, they go in a pile. I don’t like to toss them unread, as I love my parents and in this age of no more letters, getting something in the snail mail is a treat; plus, I usually enjoy the read, as my parents and I share a love for the unexpected, the odd, the ironic, the marvelous, the animal story. In this particular stack, there were many wonderful things, although I did get a little tired of articles warning about cell phone use, a particular horror of my father’s. More entertaining were: a picture of an intrepid and plucky seal plundering fish from a fish farm, having traveled a great distance over land and crossed several roads to get there; an Idaho Rottweiler who adopted a baby sheep whose mother had rejected it; a couple of articles about men attempting balloon chair flight (one of which ended badly); a story about the Iroquois team and the World Lacrosse Championships; a stern op-ed by Joyce Chicoine entitled “Hard times are nothing new for seniors” telling people to stop whining and offering teaching stories like this one, “Building a raft and floating down the river was a big adventure. Playing softball in a neighbor’s yard was common and swimming in an irrigation ditch provided a bit of excitement. We had an old Chevrolet car that took us to town once a week where we would do our shopping and stop by the local café for a piece of pie or buy an ice cream cone at the local drugstore. Somehow, we found ways to have fun without needing a lot of money”; the story of a trucker who lost her dog at a truck stop and many weeks later was reunited with her thanks to the efforts of a sympathetic local woman who baited traps with “the strongest, stinkingest smoked meat” available; an article about the inventor of the game Anti-Monopoly and his lifelong fight with Hasbro and a letter from a woman thanking the Wall Street Journal for their article about cilantro (boy, do some people hate it! my mother and Seth included); an article about Ansel Adams having taken pictures at Manzanar, the Japanese internment camp in California, now a National Historic Site.

People, there are untold millions of wonderful things in this world! I love knowing about them, which is why I really have to limit myself on the internet in this day of extreme informational overload, especially since I  have this crazy desire to hold on to these things, put them on display, somehow honor them. But my penchant/curse/blessing/talent for wanting to hold and treasure them all (I do! I really do!), archive them for some unknown audience (the boys? a future archeologist? a scholar who will find me because he/she is looking for exactly what I have collected on my windowsill and I will be vindicated once and for all, damn all of you who said it was clutter?) severely drains my creative energy. While I’m slowly filling the house up with crumbling clippings, for example, the people in those clippings have surely gone on to do ever more wonderful things, and I’m at a standstill. Rather than hold all of them close to me, I am so much happier when I find a way to let them fly, fly, fly so I can make room for my own creative work.

I therefore take this blog moment to formally acknowledge the infinite and glorious people, events, animals, and teaching stories filling this world, and pledge to try, try, try to love them and let them go so that I can do what I need to do to add to the wonder.

Except for clippings.

Published in: on January 24, 2011 at 3:36 PM  Leave a Comment