So often, as I write these essays on homestead living, particularly on the topics of simplicity, frugality, courage, and the like, I often think to myself: “Sure, I feel that way now—what happens when this position is tested?”
Unfortunately, I experience more than my share of opportunities to answer this question. For instance, I recently lost one of my favorite mugs!
If you’ve ever looked at the photos of our cabin (see A New Tour of the Zeiger Homestead Cabin (2016) and A Tour of the Zeiger Homestead Cabin) you see that space is at a premium. We store most of our mugs on a rack, which quickly fills up with the family’s favorites (see Simple Gifts: Choosing the Right Mug). One morning, as we washed dishes, Aly dried them and put them away. In the process of returning a mug to the rack, she dislodged one of my mugs, which fell and broke.
I try to look at mugs as decorations, and by definition expendable, just like cut flowers or balloons (see Develop Healthy Attitudes Toward Your Belongings). I try to enjoy them while they last, knowing they’ll soon be gone. All of a sudden, I had to live up to my own words.
This particular mug could be replaced. It wouldn’t be easy, but we could get another one. However, I remembered the particular day I bought the mug, what was happening then, why I was in the town where the mug is offered. Those memories conferred much more value on the mug than the pleasure I got from the words printed on it. The replacement mug would be just that—a reminder of the first mug, which evoked those memories. It wouldn’t be the same. There’s no point in replacing it.
The second test came closely after, at Christmas time.
When Aly went to college, she took a few of her Christmas ornaments, and added to the collection throughout her years south. At the same time, we kept a small box of her ornaments here at the homestead. When we started decorating for the Christmas just past, Aly focused on the ornaments in the box here, which she hadn’t seen for several years. One of these ornaments was a small ceramic pie plate ornament, mentioned in my book, Sacred Coffee: A “Homesteader’s” Paradigm at the end of the essay, Museum of Lost Desires.
One day, while managing arrangements in our “attic” storage space, I dropped the box, breaking the pie plate and other ornaments into shards. We found the right glue to try to piece it together, and, bless her, Aly is an archaeologist, but we have yet to see if it can be repaired. I’ve never seen one like it anywhere, so we certainly can’t replace it, either.
I loved my mug, and can let it go with some regret. I deeply regret the possibility of losing that ornament. Even so, we all seem to have survived the incident, and life goes on.
So, apparently I passed the test—twice. I may not pass them all. Of course, the loss of a few possessions is hardly upsetting in the larger scheme of things. No doubt these incidents will prove ridiculously easy compared to some others.