Due to my background in real estate, I have on occasion had the sad task of being the first to enter a house which has been forced into a mortgagee sale (or “foreclosure” in the U.S.). It is an eerie feeling to walk into an abandoned house, especially if it once belonged to a family. You never know what might have happened to create this situation: job loss, divorce or sickness. What has always surprised me is the number of belongings often abandoned on the property, like board games, couches, books and tea towels. With no money to put additional things into storage, there can even be a cupboard with a box of once coveted crystal glasses or perhaps a figurine. Often these items are difficult to get back to the unknown family and so are lost to them.
A few weeks ago, I had an item lost to me. Not by foreclosure, but by my young son, who has taken to climbing up onto everything. He took a swipe at a lovely blue Kosta Boda bowl I was very fond of. A heart stopping instant and a loud crack onto the tiles later, and I had a broken bowl.
At first I was deeply dismayed. I had taken precautions to try and protect it, but had, once again, underestimated my son’s ingenuity. Later though, I began to reconsider. Yes, it had a large piece out of the side, but perhaps I could put it to some other use. Soon, I found myself excited by all the possibilities. I could break it into smaller pieces to use in a mosaic. I could glue it together and use it out in the garden or maybe as a bird feeder? As long as it had no sharp edges I could even tip paint into it for a beautiful finger painting bowl if I wanted to.
For several years, this bowl has sat unused on a shelf, looking attractive but serving no purpose because it was ‘too nice’. I was afraid to use it for anything in case it got broken. It was only after it was ‘ruined’ that I felt free to use it.
Isn’t this strange? We collect belongings and then store them away in their packaging for a special occasion that often never comes. Why don’t we start treating ourselves instead of waiting until some visitor needs to be impressed? Why don’t we get out those champagne glasses we were given on our 21st birthday (and have carried around from house to house) and use them? We can take pleasure in their use and if they get broken or damaged, what have we really lost? They were sitting unseen in a box, anyway. Give them a chance to shine in the light before you see them falling to the floor.