Here’s another fascinating word: collectible. My family is preparing for my aged parents’ sale in Kansas. I’d call it an estate sale but that would give the wrong impression. My mother says of dusty perfume bottles in the shed, “Don’t throw them away, they’re collectibles.” (This from the woman who, in pursuit of neatness, tossed my baseball card collection. Where have you gone, Dan Quisenberry? Will I ever forgive her?)
A vowel changes (collectable/collectible) and junk turns into treasure. Cheap perfume bottles? Voilá. It’s harder than ever to get rid of anything. You try. A whole economy rises up to assist. Garage sales. E-Bay. Sunset Scavengers. But stuff seeps back, nearer and nearer the high water mark of a few years back.
In a recent New York Times piece, Pico Ayer extolled the simple life. “… my two-room apartment in nowhere Japan seems more abundant than the big house that burned down.” He has “no bicycle, no car, no television I can understand.”
Maybe that’s the trick, “no television I can understand.” But then, he flies back to the U.S. regularly. Does that get factored into “the joy of less?” Who am I to point out the paradoxes and discrepancies? Remember that wonderfully strange book from a few years back, people photographed from a birds-eye perspective outside their residences, surrounded by all the stuff they possess, as if it had washed up around them like a vaguely sinister effluvium?
Yes less is better, we all agree, though I do plan on using the coliseum in Rome, as Valentino did, as a prop for my upcoming birthday bash. Doing Pico one better, I don’t have a television at all, but I do have computer I don’t understand, and it’s spiffy. It’s hard to believe the world’s ecosystems are falling apart when the touch of this keyboard is so utterly sexy.