Thursday, March 24, 2011

Inanimate Objects and Emotion

The loomingly-imminent garage sale has been postponed. And that’s actually a good thing (even though there will be bins of stuff all over the house for at least a couple more weeks), because hopefully I’ll be able to go through more bins and boxes and closets…and find more of my life to sell off…


A goodly chunk of garage sale stuff is soft, cuddly and covered in plush. I’ve been collecting bears most of my life. I’m not a super serious collector, but enough of one to have accumulated quite a few. (Other types of critters have been acquired as well – gifts mostly, but I’m not technically collecting them.) One of the results of this “purge mode” has been the almost feverish desire to end up in a minimalist space – a few sticks of furniture, a few pieces of clothing and food…period. (I know that’s not reasonable…but it would be…tidy.)

So I decided that at fifty-nine I have outgrown stuffed animals…mostly. And I also decided that a lot of the bears (and bunnies and kitties) would have to go.

My oldest bear, Theodore, is almost 54 years old. He’s a panda, but is now black and gray instead of black and white; he’s missing a nose and a little pink tongue, and his “growl box” no longer functions. He went with me to every slumber party and every week at camp, and spent several years with me at BYU. I love him a lot and would never give him up (even if someone wanted him – which is doubtful).

My next-oldest bear is Mocha. I got him when I was working at Zions Bank in Salt Lake City. They had a promotion – Save a Little Money, Get a Little Honey (Bear). I’ve had Mocha for 33 years.

Most of the stuffed animals resided on shelves in my bedroom, so when I took Mocha down he was pretty dusty…and as I wiped a layer of dust off his little brown eyes I saw something. It startled me, so I looked closer. Sure enough…it was reproach. Now you might say that something made of fabric and stuffed with polyester batting couldn’t possibly feel or convey emotion. I’m here to tell you that you’re wrong… (Haven’t you ever read The Velveteen Rabbit????)

I tried to justify my actions to him – if I kept him, he would just continue sitting on a shelf, collecting dust. Wouldn’t it be better to be played with and loved by a child, who would cherish him?? (And then, of course, I immediately thought: Or torn to pieces by a puppy, neglected by a spoiled kid, experimented on by a sadistic teenager... (yeah, I saw Toy Story!!))

I tried telling all the bears and bunnies and kitties about the cherished-by-a-child thing as they lay smooshed together in a bin, instead of sitting in honor on a shelf. I don’t know if they believed me or not.

In Iron Man 2 (yes I finally saw it – twice), the villain says (in a thick Russian accent): “You shouldn’t get so attached to things…you should learn to let go.” And it seems accurate to say that I don’t own stuff…the stuff owns me. And right now, a lot of my stuff is a burden. I can’t just throw everything out…but perhaps I can try to find new homes for some of my stuff. (And let someone else be owned by it.)

The only thing is…my other stuffed animals are already missing their friends. And while you may think the shelves look nice, to me they look…empty.

And, as silly as it sounds, I feel guilty.

For now,


  1. Oh, you have a Jingle Bear! Ben used to have one, too. Yeah, this blog jogged too much in my brain so instead of typing it all here I'm going to do a blog post on it, too. I'll keep you posted when I get it done. Keep up the good work, sis. You'll get it done... a little at a time.

  2. Me too. I feel guilty over inanimate objects. I think they are judging me...I can't even begin to picture all those bears staring at you like that...I'll buy Mocha! I'll keep him safe! You can come visit whenever you want!:)