The Sorting Task

It is hot, and we are very pleased with ourselves for buying such a fine house, though it has almost nothing to do with us and almost everything to do with the benefits of good fortune that have been flowing our way all our lives. We have never known war nor disease, hunger nor abuse.  We sit at the crest of the era of cheap oil, with all its conveniences, complications, hypocrisies.  How to justify, to ourselves and our descendants, that we spent an entire week moving material possessions from one grand inefficient house to another, not to mention the mounds sent to the trash? I spend another week (though this could go on for months) opening boxes we moved into the basement and trying to decide where to put each item therein.  Books are a relief.  Books are easy.  We put them on the shelves. But there seem to be a great many entropic box containing yarn, playing cards, plastic spoons, poker chips, a screw driver, a single glove, a fire alarm, five CDs, an extension cord, one hardened paintbrush, one toothbrush stained yellow, a dozen clothes pins, three pens that don't work, one flashlight, one sock, 7 batteries, one marker with the wrong colored cap, four markers with no caps, two hairbands, an empty match book, 5 bottle caps, one walkie-talkie, a handful of rubber bands, 3 thumb tacks, a plethora of nails, screws, marbles, coupons, a plastic thing that might be an important part to something, a tupperware lid, $1.79 in loose change, a spring, two superballs, a rock, a wishbone, a crumbling stick of incense, a packet of carrot seeds, beads, popcorn kernels, a stick of gum (wrapped), a piece of hard candy (unwrapped), a dandruff rimmed comb, a feather, an expired driver's license.

Where did it all come from? Mostly, from the other side of the world, no doubt. Where will it all go? Just thinking of the great effort that I will have to exert to get everything to a proper resting place exhausts me. What are the chances that these playing cards will ever complete a full deck?  What are the chances that the CDs are not too scratched to play?  Surely the batteries are no longer good.  Why not just pitch the whole thing in the garbage?  No one will ever miss any of it.  The batteries, though, give pause.  Everyone knows they shouldn't go in the landfill. I pluck them from the box and then what?  A-ha! That old jelly jar I set aside for just such a purpose. But where did I find to save it for just such a purpose? The kitchen would have been logical, though I remember not wanting to risk it getting swept back into the mix of abundant and sundry glassware. Maybe I put it in the bedroom, on top of the bookshelf, perhaps, or maybe the bathroom, under the sink. Just as likely, back in another box. But even if I do find the jelly jar, what then? We throw batteries in for a few months, until we get bored with being so organized, or the jar gets misplaced, or it fills up and we have no idea what to do with it then, so we stick it on some shelf so that, years hence, when we move again, we can pack it away in a box of household miscellanea to be moved to a new place where I will, when confronted with the sorting task, consider throwing it all in the trash, until recalling what everyone knows, that batteries don't belong in the landfill.

*Journal cover drawing by Josh Kurz

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