OBJECT LOVE

By “object love” I don’t mean to suggest a love for other persons – who are sometimes referred to in self-conscious psychological discourse as “objects.” I’m talkin’ inanimate stuff. Things. The material world.

As Americans, it is – I believe – part of our national identity to be enamored by things. We certainly love our homes, cars, clothes, and many of our personal possessions. We collect objects – as a hobby, a pastime. For some it’s a life’s work. Many lose the distinction between them and us. If we have great stuff, then we are great. We are loathe to part with that stuff – so we store it in attics, in basements. There’s an entire industry that exists solely to contain and preserve the things we don’t use but can’t part with. Storage facilities. We will pay forever to keep those belongings we don’t even remember that we have.

On a lesser but included level, there are smaller, less publicly visible items which infuse us with delight or pride or fascination or some other much-desired emotion; those are the things we love with an equally abiding intensity. A watch or twenty, a scarf or dozens, the illegible and now faded first written words of our offspring, or the love letter from the boy or girl we used to know.

Sometimes our love (as love is wont to do) just attaches itself to something for no clear or comprehensible reason. And so, I acknowledge that I love my garbage pail. It’s an indoor brown plastic number with a step-on lever that raises the lid. It’s oversized for an indoor trash receptacle – so one of its desirable qualities is that I don’t have to bend down hardly at all to throw things away. But that is by no means the whole story of my strange affection. There’s that certain something about its rounded shape, its ample roominess, its…je ne said quois. When I see it, I feel more complete, like everything is right with the world. How can a garbage pail produce those deep feelings? As I said, je ne sais quois. It is one of the enigmas of life.

Since Homo sapiens invented the written word, treatises, great books and sonnets have been devoted to the mysteries of love. Please add this small bloggish offering to that trans-millennium-long human aspiration for understanding and exposition. You know what Gertrude would have said if she read this: A love is a love is a love.

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