Thursday, June 17, 2010

All the World in One Room

For a short time, the entire contents of my life were crammed into a single room.

It's always been the case that my stuff was necessarily scattered about my house, or even located in multiple states. I was never allowed to have a TV in my room, so my Nintendo was always hooked up in the playroom. When I left for college, I left my posters and more irreplaceable geek stuff in my room at home, and took with me enough of my other possessions to get by on. Even after moving back in with my family, my Star Trek mug stayed out in the kitchen, and my little Mega Man figure guarded over my desk at work.

But, as soon as my family moved out, everything of mine that had been scattered about the house was suddenly in a pile on my coffee table and my couch, along with hand-me-downs that weren't going to move with my family, basic essentials such as Scrubbing Bubbles and marshmallow fluff. Granted, there were a few objects left behind in other rooms, and I still had my impressive secret snack stash at work, but the snacks aren't meant to last and the objects left behind were just that--left behind. I'd have to be a scavenger and drag them to my new apartment before they would be mine.

There are three things you may notice when your entire life is effectively jammed into one room. First, you have little or no space to sit down and watch Deep Space Nine, let alone have an unobstructed view of the television screen. Second, it dawns on you just how easy it would be for a natural disaster, however small, to completely wipe out every trace of your personal possessions. Third, everything you've been working toward owning your whole life--whether it's a complete collection of every DC comic ever created or cardboard cutouts of the Pirates of the Caribbean cast--seems a lot smaller than you remember.

You spend your whole life scouring conventions for Dragon Ball Z merchandise or working a job to fund your Warhammer hobby, and yet you've still got the space to fit your entire bed... and sleep on it without bumping into an oversized Skeletor plushie. Where did all that time and money go?

Perhaps that time and money went into things you can't move across town in a truck.

If the sum of my life is simply what's in my room right now, then I've squandered my time on this earth. My room is a sanctuary, a comfort after a difficult day, a place to share time with friends... but it's the time spent there that makes the difference, not the stuff. And it's how the stuff enables me to connect with people around the world or escape from the world to recharge for a while that matters more than what I have.

Here's to a life that outlasts my stuff.

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