I opened the jar of sesame seeds this evening, and the glass lid slipped from my hand, fell to the floor, and broke. I closed my eyes and took a deep breath. Another one of my favourite antique jars was gone. There is only one left now.
I don’t know how old these lovely Atlas jars are, but they are certainly older than me, possibly much older. I should probably not be using them at all. But they are beautiful and useful—it would be a shame to pack them carefully away to preserve them. Better to let them live out their lives as useful kitchenware, as they were meant to.
I believe in using the things that I enjoy. So I use those antique jars, the 150 year old steamer trunk, the antique chairs, the collection of early 20th century teacups.
The quilt that I spent seven years embroidering goes on the bed every summer, and the newest quilt (over a year in the making) serves us all winter.
The result is, of course, that things break, fade, and wear out. Slowly these little treasures disappear, no matter how much care we take with them.
But I like to think of these objects as having a life, a presence that is tied intimately to their utility. If they are not used, they cease to exist as they were meant to. By using them, and ultimately breaking them, I keep them alive. And when I wrap the broken shards in newspaper and inter them in the rubbish bin, I know that they have lived and died well.
I hope I can say the same of myself when I reach the same point in my life.