Stuff

Stuff.

Single word. Single syllable. Single vowel. An entire sentence done in five letters and an insignificant bit of punctuation.

Stuff.

Seemingly the bane of my existence, stuff.

Almost my entire adult life has been spent acquiring stuff. And not all the stuff was physical, tangible, goods. There were trade qualifications. There was (is?) a university degree, with good marks, good enough marks to qualify for graduate program work. But there were tools. Chests full of them. Starrett, Mitutoyo, Brown and Sharpe, Snap-On, Craftsman (when Craftsman were still tools you could make a living with), Wiss, and Weller. Simpson, Fluke, LG, Tek. And more.

There was time spent at technical school learning electronics. Twice, apparently, according to the Registrar’s Office. Twice? I remember once. Maybe there is a lead there somewhere. And welding tickets. And machine tools of my own – building bicycle frames under my own brand – all, all of it, neat and tidy.

But there were also times of divestment. The time would come when all I wanted to do was to get rid of whatever stuff I had, get rid of all of it, the monetary investment (and subsequent loss) seemed irrelevant. The mental cost of keeping stuff comes to outweigh any pleasure, or income, attained by having the stuff. So I would give it away. I’d sell it, at a markdown that makes the 1929 stock-market crash look like a exemplar of probity and financial security.

This is becoming one of those times of divestment. Why?

When you make something – you make a special dinner for someone, or craft a piece of furniture – when you do something physically or intellectually demanding, do you feel any sense of pride, of self-appreciation, of mere ability when you’re done?

I have written for money. I’ve fixed stuff for money. Machining, repairing, drawing, designing, building, writing, publishing all reasonably successfully. And never do I feel any satisfaction. I never feel like I’ve accomplished something admirable, noteworthy, some act worthy even of my own respect.

Doubt. I guess.

So I start out on any given path, full of promise, full of hope. Because I can read reasonably well, because I can translate drawings in to 3-dimensional realizations, turn a schematic in to a circuit, I do. But try as I might, and however contrary to the evidence in front of me, I never feel a sense of ‘done’ that eases me. I never sit back and think ‘that’s OK, I did that and it’s OK.’

And people hire me, and, surprisingly enough, hire me again, because I can do this shit. One firm has hired me. I quit without notice. Hired me again. I quit with 2 weeks notice. Hired me again.

Either they’re crazy or I’m crazy.

Oh, ya, stuff.

Right now my collection of stuff is weighing me down. And I’m trying to so something with 60 or 70% of the stuff in my apartment. This time though I know things have changed. This time I know I will no longer have the income (potential or realized) to replace thousands and thousands of dollars worth of stuff. I’m aging, raging, rarin’ to go.

Everything I do seems the equivalent of eating scrambled eggs out of the frying pan.

This is ‘off topic;’ seems a friend of mine, about 14 or 15 time zones in to the future, suffers in some way similar. He wrote me, a beer in hand, sounded like Hemingway, far away into the future. Be well. Be as well as you can be, under the circumstances.

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