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Every sheet I own is clean this morning, with the exception of the ones I slept on last night. I suppose they are seven hours worth of soiled.

What with the stoop sale and it’s aftermath, and pressing my unwanted things on friends and some simple tossing out, a number of things that I have had in my possession for years are now gone. This morning I noticed that I don’t miss them at all. I have no seller’s remorse. And some of these things were things that I had shopped for passionately, had sweated over getting. Poof, gone.

When I look at it honestly now, I end up having more affection for systems that I have set up in my life, than for things I have acquired. Currently I’m feeling good about using an old apple butter jar to collect my coins in every evening. No other system has ever worked for me, and I’ve always had spare coins lying around the floor of my apartment after they fall out of the pockets of my pants. The coin jar has saved my hash a couple of times now when finances get tight and I need to get through a couple of days until a pay check arrives. Even though I’ve had a bank on my nightstand for years (a bank that I bought because of the sentimental fact that it’s the same kind of bank I had as a child), it’s never worked the same way. So now I love the jar, and I guess it’s time for the bank to go.

The system, I suppose, is an accomplishment. And accomplishment is something that actually answers to that frightened need that I try to buy off with acquisition. I tend to frame my acquisitions in terms that it’s a tool to move me forward towards the next goal: if I buy this type of pen, I’ll draw and I’ll be an artist. No, not unless I can set up a system in my life that brings me to the emotional place to draw consistently. It’s the accomplishment of drawing that matters, and when I’m honest with myself I usually see that I already have all the tools at hand to make that happen. My fears make me ignore them, or imagine that there is some other magic thing that I need to have first.

Next up, I’m going to try to stop using paper towels and go back to rags: there were a couple of promotional towels I had been meaning to get rid of, and I realized I could cut them up for rags. Washing and reusing them will cost me a lot less than a roll of paper towels would, especially those “Seventh Generation” guilt assuagers I like to buy. And if I use them regularly, having to clean them just might make me less erratic with my laundry.

I’m also trying to deal with certain types of acquisition differently; the new rule is that any new art books have to “earn their keep”. I’m always buying books for “inspiration and reference”. The government is ok with this: it allows me to write them off on my taxes. But too often I buy books compulsively, falling in love with them in the store and then getting them home and setting them aside to be perused at a later date that never arrives. Now they go in an “in pile” on my drawing table. When I sit down to draw, I open the top one on the pile and look through it to generate a drawing idea, or an idea for some other piece. This is the “earning their keep” part. I’m trying to make my book buying a conscious part of my art making process. I can feel better about plunking down the money for a book if I know that the act means that there is a drawing or something else coming at the end of it.

It’s the same way that the camera I bought last year has now paid for itself, because I used this forum to make myself take pictures every day, pictures that lead to the photo collages I showed in San Francisco this spring, a couple of which I was able to sell. So the camera has earned its keep.

Uh, the system works?

As I think about this it allows me to re-evaluate (literally) my various possessions: how can this thing be part of a system of accomplishment, or is it simply functioning symbolically, a totem of who I wish myself to be seen as? I don’t think the goal should be to eliminate the symbolic completely, but rather to make it a much smaller percentage of the stuff in my life.

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