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 jimanna.bishop@gmail.com.

(3) comments

Donald

My take on it.

ACCOUTREMENTS OF A LIFE

Whether returning home

to the stillness of now silent rooms

from a frenzied rush to the Vet

to end the suffering of a long-time companion

or returning from the graveside services

for a loved one,

the senses are sharpened –

so they say.

A water bowl, half empty, never to be used again

toys long unused but still kept near

a leash and collar hanging quiet

for want of a walk.

A wife’s comb laying

on the vanity,

a tube of half-used lipstick,

a book on her side of the bed – bookmarked,

glasses carelessly set aside.

A husband’s keys hanging from a wall peg,

a pile of dirty work shirts ready for one last wash,

tools resting quietly where last set down,

a note, hastily written, “Back soon. Just going to the store”.

A child’s bike resting against the house,

a school bag filled with last week’s homework,

new mittens for the coming cold,

a model – half finished.

Best toss them out -- so they say

Just reminders

best to forget – so they say

They’re probably right

Life goes on –

so they say –

eventually.

brokenanvil

Poignant reminder, Donald, for the many of us who are all too familiar with the accoutrements of which you speak. My sincere condolences if you are suffering a loss. And life, such as it is, does go on, immediately and eventually...

Donald

Thank you, Mr. brokenanvil. It is a poem I wrote a few years ago. And you are correct in that loss is something most everyone eventually becomes familiar with. I was reminded of the poem by Mr. Bishop’s reference to his father’s “jewelry box” and its contents. Though a couple of tie tacks would not mean much, in this case they are the physical connection to a spiritual connection to a loved one past. In that sense they are not junk.

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