Why Throw The Old Ways Away

Sometimes I look at my aging body and face and truly see the value of years of use in the etched lines of me. I no longer need the allure of flawlessness to feel comfortable in my skin. Perfection is a little creepy in our bodies that was meant to live fully, then “tell story” and share the wisdom. Often I look at the polished and pristine surfaces of a newly manufactured object and feel a wave of something approaching boredom. We are, after all, a society built on the substrate of ever-replacing, ever-obsolescent artifacts. But do we really want to ride that wave at the expense of throwing the old ways away?

Our manufacturing sectors would tumble to a halt, our economies shrink, if we applied our ingenuity to re-use and recycle the vast amounts of household objects that we toss and replace on a daily basis. And it isn’t even a long-standing behavior amongst our species. More and more people are waking up to an ethos we would have inherited from our great-grandparents (of thoughtfully re-imagining uses for things) if the post-industrial orgy of cheap manufacturing hadn’t settled upon us with a fog. But the planet is groaning under the practice of it. Our resource management habits need some serious updating; both over-extracting limited ones and dumping the toxic remnants of our “church of stuff” back onto the ground. Thankfully it appears as if people are waking up. Nobody wants to sleep in a soiled bed after all. Reduce, reuse, recycle and think green have become the new catch phrases, especially amongst creative types. I think because we are born thrifty experimenters.

Clearly we have to have a little fun with this concept! I adore all the indy fashion around that deconstructs older worn clothing into bright funky garments of thrifty flare. My grandmother used to make quilts. Now I wear the current iteration of this snip and stitch impulse. I love walking around flea markets and eavesdropping on conversations as people imagine a fresh makeover for an old castaway. We are reprocessers by nature once we can see the charm of a worn veneer and even imbue the history-inlaid objects around us with our own stories. I used to go a little crazy when my partner insisted on using his older electronics until they were good and broke-down. Yesterday he sold an iPhone 3G for $118 on eBay; more than half of what he paid for it 3+ years ago. We are inculcated with the program that cell phones were meant to be cycled out of commission on a 2 year basis yet there are people out there who clearly want the old ones in preference to the new. So that should make the truly old even more alluring. I’m speaking here of things in the 10-100 year range. The vintage stuff that’s everywhere, and crying for a little sun to shine on it. The finds that a little bit of love and creativity could make better than purposeful again.

We don’t have to be surrounded by those “stories” all over, but we sure could use their lines and their imperfections to cast a little slowness on these pumped up times.