A few weeks ago, I finally got around to starting a project I had been thinking about for some time. I’m calling it my Book of Things.
I’ve made a list of things—tangible things— that are dear to me. My special things include a huge mishmash of stuff—a collection of receipts stickpinned together, family crockery, bits of jewellery, an old leather belt and plain old rocks.
Most of my special things have no monetary value, but they speak to me in a deep and almost spiritual way.
And that’s not all.
I’ve discovered that writing about my special things inspires unexpected rushes of remembrance about the people connected with them. It’s as if the physical objects open a tap through which memories flow without censorship or interruption. And I find myself writing without the angst of not knowing where to begin. That’s a lovely bonus!
Coincidentally, I just finished Elena Mauli Shapiro’s novel, 13 rue Thérèse, in which a boxful of things is the basis of an imagined life story. The things are mementoes collected over a real woman’s lifetime. They are “objects worth nothing but memories”— the “sepulchre” of the woman’s heart. “The story behind the objects is lost; the objects are now the story.”
My Book of Things has a somewhat different premise. I still know the stories behind the objects. And I know it’s important to capture those stories, before they’re lost.
Things are a good starting place for remembering. And for writing.
What are your special things? I’d love to hear about them.