Crows and Collections and Closure


In science there is only physics; all the rest is stamp collecting.  ~Lord Kelvin

He shall be my Squishy...

We all have seen headlines such as these…

“Cat Hoarder Arrested,” “Man’s Body Found Among Stacks of Newspapers,” “35 Years of Junk in Dilapidated House”

Probably we shake our heads; telling ourselves that these poor souls were disturbed, demented. They weren’t like us, and we certainly didn’t know anyone like this. This sort of thing would never happen in our neighborhood.

These are the extreme cases. The ones we hear about, and the ones that stick in our minds. Whether the hoarders collect animals or 40-year-old bundles of newspapers, there is no doubt they have a problem and need help. So why am I writing about these people (incidentally, I am not one of them. 2 cats is enough for any human being.)

Just when I think I have nothing to write about for one day, an idea gets in my head.

I see SHINY THINGS!

One thing I struggle with being on the autism spectrum is placing more value on things than people. Whether it’s a favorite blanket, or a stuffed animal, or the numerous collections I’ve had over the years. I do hoard, but not in the way that most people think of hoarding. I have come to attach a symbolic, almost mystical meaning to many of my objects. Like the crow, I pull whatever objects catch my eye into my nest and keep them there.

Most people, if they were to see my room, would think it was disorganized and chaotic. If one thing were out of place, I would know exactly what it was. Sherlock Holmes has nothing on me in that arena. The problem is, I can’t remember people’s faces even if I’ve met them just a short time ago. For every blessing, a curse.

There comes a time in life when every crow must clean out its nest and move on. That time has been now for me. For the longest time I had recurring dreams about being stuck in an airport surrounded by mountains of luggage, unable to move on. Anyone want to take a guess as to what that’s about? So today, I made time to clean out some of my closets. Some of those patches of carpet hadn’t seen daylight in several years. I started going through these piles and looking at things that once held such meaning, but were now forgotten and faded. Notes from school. Old trophies. Pictures of former idols and heroes. Clothes I hadn’t worn since the Clinton administration. All of it was there.

$25? $10? How about "free?"

And there were the collections. Stamps. Baseball cards. An entire box full of dry, desiccated markers. All of them went into the Goodwill box, and it felt good indeed.

I suspect many people, and not just autistics, have this problem. It’s hard to simply throw something away or give it away. We tell ourselves we might have use for it one day, that we’ll fit into the dress again, that the ugly Secret Santa gift could be re-gifted next Christmas. We forget, and the stuff sits there, gathering dust, as we go out and buy newer, shinier, more exciting stuff to replace it. And so the cycle goes. I suspect this is how stores like TJ Maxx and Ross stay in business.

Of course, I won’t get rid of certain things because of their symbolic meanings, and because they are irreplaceable. There are two white corals on top of my TV set which my father once brought me from an island off the coast of India. Those kinds of things will be with me forever. I could never get rid of them.

The real problem is knowing which items can stay and which can go. Sometimes I have to look deep within my heart and ask, “am I ever really going to use this again? Does it matter to me?” As I cleaned today, most of the stuff just did not pass muster, and to Goodwill it went.

The real irony of it all was that so many of the things I once ascribed real meaning to. 10 years after the fact, I don’t hesitate to drop it into a tequila box and take it to a drop bin. (And I know why Jessie the Cowgirl was so upset in Toy Story 2. I can’t hear that song without openly weeping.)

It’s almost sad to think that my current Special Interest might one day be relegated to one of those boxes. But change is inevitable. Times change. Even the greatest mountain is worn down to sand over time. There’s nothing I can do to stop it, but I can embrace the change and learn from it. It’s a difficult lesson to learn, but one of the most important.

And for any of you who expressed interest in my Murdock jacket? Sorry, it’s spoken for. The scrapbook, on the other hand, is still available.

Give me your fokken' jacket, man!

There is nothing wrong with change, if it is in the right direction” ~Sir Winston Churchill

Questions? Comments? Think I’m nuts? Drop me a line at wikusandmurdock@yahoo.com!

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~ by Howlin' Mad Heather on September 6, 2010.

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