Rabbitbrush Rambler: Tomorrow’s junque


The president returned to the White House from China with the gift of a valuable gold table runner. With his penchant for gilt in his residences, a gold table runner should be just the thing.

It’s a relief to know that his taste doesn’t run to trophies of dead animals from hunting safaris. They would have been more the style for Me Tarzans like Teddy Roosevelt, the Trump sons, or the dentist in Minnesota who lost a lot of root canal jobs after he killed Cecil the Lion.

But with Ryan Zinke now in charge of Interior and USFWS, we can expect to see more of our nation’s wildlife and fish gathering dust on the walls of offices, rumpus rooms, and taverns. Zinke views trophy hunting as good wildlife management.

For more plebian collectors, there are Black Fridays and Cyber Mondays. My mental picture of a real horror story is getting up before dawn to be a door crasher and snatching toys and clothes and whatever else from tables and shelves because everyone else is doing it.

It must be a symptom of my advanced age that now it makes more sense to stop buying stuff and acquiring possessions that soon end up in the backs of closets, landfills and junkyards. It makes even more sense to me to resist the urge to collect in the first place. Visit a museum instead.

We all enjoy collecting things, like seashells, arrowheads, and pieces of rusty barbed wire in picture frames. Psychologists sometimes explain such acquisitive tendencies as filling voids in our lives or as a way to achieve distinction or some other such personal need.

But collections can become burdens, needlessly taking up space. My niece, who was visiting recently, was worrying about what to do with things that had belonged to her grandmother, (my mother) who had purchased a pretty china teacup at a shop as a memento of each place she visited. So now my niece has dozens of the pretty teacups in a pretty display cabinet and wishes she could get rid of them somehow but apparently feels fearful that she might seem ungrateful or disloyal.

One of my niece’s daughters also has her great-grandmother’s sterling tea set, but this very busy great-niece of mine is a working PHD scientist, researching AIDS in places like Africa, and is raising twin toddlers besides. What on earth can she do with stuff like that?

I blurted out, “Get rid of it. Sell it on EBay. No one lives that way these days!” (Except Queen Elizabeth, Donald Trump, and Wall Streeters, and who wants to emulate them?)

The mother of one of my friends collected dozens of souvenir coffee mugs in her travels, and then her daughter was stuck with boxes full of them. If nothing else, a customer at Rainbow’s End who might have no coffee mug at all might appreciate one or two of them, but others might be good for target practice.

When I, feeling oh so generous, wanted to give things to friends and families recently, I quickly learned that no one wants such stuff, even if it seemed a bit expensive originally or was used only once or twice. They already have their own closets and garages full of stuff like that. 

Besides, most kids will have let you know somehow if they really covet an object, long before you are ready to part with it.

So lately I have made a lot of trips with a full car trunk for Rainbow’s End, which supports La Puente, and there are other good outlets supporting charities. Just be sure that every item is clean, in good repair, and truly useful for someone who has a need for it.

But no more junque, please.

Unfortunately, most of us do have things like that, cluttering our lives, while other people lack the basics of food, pure water, shelter, and clothing. So we should just give the truly usable, extra stuff away or help raise money to provide for people who lack the necessities of life and living with dignity.

Charitable outlets and churches must know plenty of folks who really need things we no longer need. But be sure it is really good, useful stuff, not just more junque that should go to a landfill.

After this past year’s hurricanes, floods, and fires, thousands of people who once had plenty of the necessary and unnecessary things, perhaps even a lot more than enough, found themselves without house and home, clean water and food. Generous people filled trucks and horse trailers with goods and food to haul hundreds of miles to Texas after that one or sent money to reliable organizations.

Anyway, one storm or fire could wipe it all out, which could perhaps make it simpler and more enjoyable.  Of course, serious tragedies are something else.

I think that a lot of us have lost our perspective about the things that really matter. Long ago …..

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