One man’s treasures are another man’s trash, the saying goes. But how does one tell the difference?
This pandemic has given me lotsa time to stare at and even consider going through “stuff” that’s accumulated around our house — in files, on drawer tops, in closets — staring back at me as if to say, “C’mon, toss me out, I dare you!”
Next thing I know, I back off, declaring, “I’ll be back … tomorrow!”
We’ve lived at the same address for 48 years, in a cozy ranch dwelling with no attic, basement or garage, so we’ve been forced not to hoard lots of things. Plus, our development holds a spring and fall development-wide yard sale that has enabled us to rid ourselves of a considerable amount of junk, er, collectibles.
Nevertheless, I continue to allow the paraphernalia to accumulate, even though many objects serve no useful purpose these days.
For example, a peek into our bedroom begins with an item lying on the bedside table — my well-worn (smile) New International Version (NIV) of the Holy Bible. Honest, friends, I do read it daily, in conjunction with the “Our Daily Bread” devotional guide.
It’s not the Bible itself that’s the issue, but rather the cluster of clippings that have accumulated inside the front cover: a Father’s Day card from my dear spouse from 2009, a year-end financial report from Community Mennonite Church for Jan. 1-Dec. 31, 1998 that reported a budget surplus of $11,147, my notes from moderating the funeral reception for dear friend Marjorie Guengerich, who died Oct. 21, 2014, a church bulletin from Mt. Clinton United Methodist Church where I spoke on June 20, 2004, a printout of a hilarious anecdote, “What would it be like if God decided to install voicemail,” a reflection by Millard Osborne on the life and passing of his 29-year-old son, Buddy, of melanoma, and the printed lyrics of the Medical Mission Sisters’ song, “God Gives his People Strength,’ that I led years ago with my guitar (that I don’t play anymore) at church. Nor have we sung that selection since.
Pray tell why have these items taken up permanent residence in my Bible? Why haven’t I consigned them to File 13, long time passing?
Turning to our bedroom bureau, one finds a half-empty bottle of English Leather cologne — “All my men wear English Leather, or they wear nothing at all” — remember? I’m sure I bought this masculine fragrance my first year of college (1963-64) but rarely used it until after the fateful encounter my sophomore year with one Anna Mast, now my good companion of 53 years. I’m afraid to even open the bottle now, let alone apply the contents, fearful that it would dissolve my skin.
Next to this “Love Potion No. 9” sits a padded “jewelry box” that belonged to my late father. Flip open the top and there’s a couple tie-tacks (when did I last wear one?), two shoehorns, Dad’s cuff-links, a couple of 1-cent stamps, two Fender guitar picks, a matchbox from Shorty’s Radio Record Shop in Los Angeles with an ad for an RCA Victor 45 rpm record player (I had one!) on the back and several ink pens engraved with names of places that have gone out of business.
Moving to the next room down, my man cave, it gets worse (my wife is afraid to touch anything in this sacred space, let alone try to clean it).
Occupying space here are radios, including a 1930’s-era Crosley floor model radio — AM with two short-wave bands — that belonged to my grandparents, Walter and Priscilla Bishop. Next to it, an early-60’s Motorola AM-FM table radio that my dad installed on a shelf in our kitchen to listen to “Rambling With Gambling” on WOR, New York, while having breakfast. I now listen to classical music on WEMC-FM while banging away on my laptop. Next to the computer sits a Naxa AM-FM mini-radio to remind me of my transistor days.
On bending shelves on the other wall of the man cave — a mini-disc player, a regular CD player and a CD burner on which I continue to make homemade music CDs, some for my own enjoyment and others specially put together as gifts to unsuspecting recipients. There are rows of homemade music CDs that need a new home. The problem: in slipping these discs to persons, they respond, “Thanks, but I don’t have a CD player anymore.”
So, is this simply a nostalgia binge — and nostalgia isn’t what it used to be — or something more?
If I’m truly honest with myself, the “moral” of this clutter-ridden tale reaches back to my NIV Bible and hits me squarely between the eyeballs: “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven . . . For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matt. 6:19, 21).
Guess how I’ll be spending the next couple weeks …
Jim Bishop lives in Harrisonburg. He welcomes your comments at email@example.com.