Objects, Intentions, Expectations

For the last couple of weeks, I felt a weird dissatisfaction in my home. Something was off. I couldn’t get comfortable. I cleaned, reorganized, redecorated, but I couldn’t shake the feeling that something was not right.

I traced that feeling to the recent acquisition of a number of new objects, now scattered throughout my apartment: my FitBit Surge and its accessories on my nightstand, a stack of unread books on the coffee table, a tripod and tabletop lighting tent for my camera, a the acoustic guitar I’m renting for lessons.

These objects are constant reminders of the things I want to do – be more active, read more, learn more about photography, practice guitar – things I’m largely failing to do since work got busier in the new year. Coming home at the end of the day, I can’t relax and watch Netflix on the couch while heating up dinner. I am pestered by these reminders of the “more productive” things I should be doing. It is insidiously, inescapably stressful.

I hate the idea of having stuff I don’t use. One of my greatest fears is becoming the person that has lots of goals and ideas but doesn’t follow through. The person that starts things easily and gives up just as easily. The person that collects the detritus of abandoned hobbies like a philatelist collects commemorative issue stamps. The person that will get around to doing that thing they’ve always wanted to do, someday. The person that is, in summary, just another unlived life.

This fictional person, this hypothetical future, haunts me. I can’t stand the sight of my pink Everlast pro boxing gloves because I haven’t been kickboxing in six months (at least), but I also can’t stand the idea of keeping them in the closet until I have time to use them again. “Closet and forget it” is Step 1 on the slippery slope to being that person and just the thought makes me cringe. Instead, I’d rather sell, donate, or discard anything I’m not using immediately. Then these objects can’t remind me of my unrealized intentions. They can’t weight me down with their unspoken expectations.

Throwing things out is a way of avoiding reality. If I can’t have what I want, like enough free time to do a weekly photo challenge, I rewrite the story of what I want to exclude those things in the first place. Perfection restored. All goals attained. But only because I throttled my expectations and limited my horizons.


Better instead, I think, to stick with the big goals, the impossible efforts, and learn to accept disappointments, setbacks, and failures. So the goal for the next few weeks, as work gets steadily busier, is to sit with the discomfort these objects cause me, hold on to them for a little bit longer, and accept the imperfections in my everyday life.


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