Saturday, July 26, 2008

Harold Loves Maude


It’s one of my favorite quotes of all time, from one of my favorite movies of all time, Harold and Maude. The scene is rather simple, yet incredibly evocative. Harold and Maude have spent all afternoon at an arcade playing games together and Harold is smitten. They are now sitting on the banks of a river.

Harold: Maude?
Maude: Yeah?
Harold: [pulling a stamped coin from the arcade out of his pocket] Here.
Maude: A gift! [she reads the engraving]
Maude: "Harold loves Maude."... and Maude loves Harold. This is the nicest gift I've received in years.
[she tosses the stamped coin into the water]
Harold: [gasps]
Maude: [looks at Harold with a great deal of love] So I'll always know where it is.


I’ve been talking with some friends about just skipping the whole ebay/craigslist/freecycle thing and giving them all of my furniture for long-term storage. The idea is that I would be providing people I care about with things that they actually need. In exchange, they would hold on to my furniture until I figure out what to do with it. This would be a long-term loan of sorts. And I will always know where my furniture is.

I’m a bit conflicted about this. For one thing, I’m sure there is a part of me that looks to this as a way to ‘keep’ my stuff and not have to go through the trauma of actually selling it. To use ebay or craigslist would, in essence, put a dollar figure on the money I wasted trying to live a ‘material’ life. This would force me to come face to face with the consequences of unmitigated consumerism.

I’ve also been thinking about the idea of freecycling. There is definitely value in giving for the sake of giving. Of recognizing one’s past vulnerabilities and attempting to make amends. I can’t go back in time and save the trees that were destroyed in order for me to enjoy an 18th century Chinese bookshelf. I can’t recapture all the fossil fuels that were wasted when my handcrafted king-size sleigh bed was delivered.

But I can let go completely. I can just give it ALL away. Why do I need to charge someone for something that really shouldn’t have been mine in the first place?

I have through the middle of next year to figure this out. But I would certainly appreciate your advice, my dear reader. What would you do?

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