Sunday, March 28, 2004

Why do we always throw things away?

J. has this favorite lined nylon jacket. It's a little worn. The stitching on the colored stripes on the front of the jacket were worn and frayed to the point where the nylon strips started to come off of the coat. The seams around the pockets are coming undone and the stitching around one of the cuffs is about to give way. Of course it would make things easier just to buy a new one, but he loves this jacket, so this morning I decided to try to fix it.

We always think of our time in terms of an economy based on what we could be doing. I could be building a website, I could be re-writing a lab, or I could just be writing. And each day I trade and shift my priorities as if they were hard goods to be bartered. At least, this is how I feel like I've been living for the past five years. Though I work for a demanding company, I suspect that my life wouldn't be too different if I worked for myself or even for a laxer group. Time is money. Time is money. So it isn't surprising that when we encounter the problem of something breaking on us or something falling into disrepair, it's much more economical to throw that thing away and buy a new one.

I believe that as we have evolved into this highly consumption oriented culture and eventually we began to loose our sentimental attachment to specific things. Though... Perhaps not (see the comment from Ms. Smarmalade below). This is simply my perception. It could be argued that in our need for consistency and familiarity we will always create vessels for our sentimentality: hence, the scrapbook craze. Though I'm convinced that much of the 'doo-dad' scrapbooks of today are created by bored housewives. I'm really glad that my mother didn't make a scrapbook with little ponies and ribbons... though it might be fodder for comedy later on in my life. If my mother were to put memories in a scrapbook she might include the time that I altered the dress I was supposed to wear at a wedding with a pair of kitchen scissors.

If you think of it, there's also a cultural need to own things with a past such as antiques. I also was thinking about the whole faded jean fad. As we were eating lunch on Sunday we looked across the street and saw a van parked in a lot with a sign that said. "Will pay big bucks for your old levis. " Why is it so important to wear a pair of jeans that were worn and holey? Just because they look cool? It seems to me that objects that visibly have a past hold some pleasing aesthetic to us. It's almost as if their past ads to their value/attraction.

Ooops... I discovered that I am not the seamstress that I thought I was. My mother's father was actually a tailor by trade; however, I did not inherit this natural skill or ability. Obviously, as I think that I can use a pair of scissors to alter clothing. Although my stitching on the jacket was uniform and snug, I- uh - sort of sewed the pocket of the jacket shut. How embarrasing! I will have to undo this part of the sewing and re-do it. Oy.


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