Objects’ Spirit

I often wonder whether or not inanimate objects have spirits of their own. Oh, I know it sounds absolutely crazy, but stay with me for a moment.

Haven’t you ever felt close to something that was just… well, a thing? A favorite mug, perhaps, or a painting that moved you. Maybe a childhood toy or stuffed-animal or a piece of jewelry or even the first car that you called your own. Of course, stuff is just stuff. We all know this. There’s no argument that if we had to choose between saving our friends and family from a fire or saving our things, we would choose the people in our lives over the mere objects that we’ve accumulated.

And yet, I always feel that the mere act of possessing something and appreciating it instills a kind of life in it. I find myself talking to my computer at times – sometimes aloud, sometimes only in my head. I know that I could never get rid of Beary-Bear or Twinkle, my favorite teddy-bears. I know that the bowl in which I pour my Quaker Squares in the morning seems to greet me cheerfully in the mornings when I dip my spoon into it.

What if objects actually did have some sort of life or spirit to them? What if they whispered amongst themselves when we went to sleep, chatting about how we used them during the day; complaining when we were unkind or rough or when they were ignored. What if they appreciated our attention or loathed it? What if our refrigerators were in love with our stoves?

Well, maybe they do have a life of their own. Maybe they do communicate. It would sure explain how when one appliance breaks, everything else seems to follow it in breaking. It would explain why some objects charm us and make us love them while some make us put them way back in the shelf or never buy them in the first place. It would explain that bizarre feeling when we get up to use the toilet at four in the morning and feel as if someone’s just stopped talking when we woke up.

Ah, the things one thinks about at midnight…

Just A Bench

Think of a bench you know. Just a bench, a regular bench – just made of some planks of wood and a few rusty nails. Picture this bench that you see every day, on your way to work or the supermarket, and never think about twice. And now, indulge me for a moment, and really think about it. There is life in that bench.

A thousand people have sat on that bench. Hundreds have put their arms around the back of it, or perched on the edge of it, or lay down upon it. So many have stopped to tie their shoes there, or put down their grocery bags on it for a moment, or even walked along on top it for fun.

This bench, this commonplace, every day object has witnessed so much: Old men sitting on it and schmoozing for hours, watching the world go by; Old women putting down their purses on it and waiting there for the bus into town; Children have walked on it, holding their parents’ hands and squealing, feeling so high up; Those same children, years later, sitting on it and fervently passing a cigarette around late at night, feeling naughty; The homeless have made homes of it; The drunkards have made beds of it; The mad have had conversations with it; The weather has, of course, never shown it one bit of mercy.

This bench has probably encountered more people than we will speak to in a lifetime. This bench, in a way, has held more life than we will ever know upon its rickety wooden planks, carved and scratched and scarred as they are, holding the memories of hundreds upon hundreds. This bench is more alive and full of memory and experience than we will ever be able to comprehend.