Thursday, March 1, 2012

Touchstones


Some of my touchstones.

There are so many things we touch everyday with hardly a thought. A butter knife. A pen. A keyboard. Doorknobs. The phone. The steering wheel.

Yet sometimes touch lingers on particular things, special things. And there’s a story attached to every piece, isn’t there? Which of your objects tell stories?

These objects are touchstones.

Small inexpensive objects I collected during most of my travels would be examples. Subtle yet powerful, they transport me when I need to disappear for a moment to a street in Paris, or an old army post in Halifax, or a cemetery along the South Saskatchewan River. Likewise, I linger when I touch the covers of favourite books. Others keep these objects too: a friend tells me she keeps a letter I wrote to her many, many years ago. And I notice how some people touch their guitars.

Better yet are the ones who represent people, like the duct-tape wallet my son made for me. I almost always have it with me. It keeps us linked. In my real wallet there’s a message inside one of the pockets especially for me. I take it out every once in a while and read it. It helps.

And then there are the objects I don’t have. When my father died, I really wanted his wallet. I guess it was because I knew he touched everyday. I didn’t say anything to my Mom though. So instead I seriously considered stealing his badger bristle shaving cream brush. I remember standing in his bathroom contemplating my thievery. At the time, I wondered why I was acting so ridiculous. I get it now though. It’s a touchstone. Some things over time are such a daily part of our lives or our growing years that their permanence seems genuine and true and somehow grounding. They link us to the past. They steady and soothe us. During my entire youth, my father’s shaving brush sat beside the bathroom sink. And I guess it remained there for years even after I moved away because it was still there after he died. I wish I had taken it.

Some wouldn’t even glance at these items but to me they are more valuable than so many expensive things I could be given or buy. And they remind me how little I need in the way of objects. In fact, it’s not about the objects at all.

We need memories folks. Make memories. Keep them close and touch them often.

8 comments:

karensomethingorother said...

When my boyfriend died, I filled a garbage bag with things that to me seemed like HIM; green track suit, the bandanna he wore when he lost his hair, rugby shirt, his glasses, some of his Pink Floyd Tapes...

Kelly said...

I have a book my mother read to me as a child. It' means the world to me now that she is gone

Sub-Radar-Mike said...

I have lots of these... I never knew the term for them though. This makes me nostalgic, happy and sad all at once.

Claire Beynon said...

Hi dbs - I love what you say here; touchstones carry us beyond sentimentality into a landscape of deep valuing. I carry a turquoise scarab beetle, a ribbon that once belonged to my grandmother, a tiny metal 'label' (a bit like a dog-tag) from my daughter that has the word 'breathe' pressed into it and a company of small stones (amongst these, a ventifact, a triangle of volcanic debris from Erebus, a tumbled-round stone a friend brought home from Montserrat. . .). Each object, a small universe. Like you, I believe it is good - important even - to touch these treasures often. This has, I think, something to do with the many meanings of 'contact'.

Mel said...

I love that. These things are absolutely so meaningful and irreplacable.

Alistair said...

I have the lucky ebony and ivory double six domino carried by my Grandfather in Gallipoli and The Somme in WWI and which my father carried on 30 missions over Germany in WWII.

Some eblems take on an iconic status that transcends rational thought.

Debra She Who Seeks said...

Sometimes I wonder what little knick knacks among my current possessions will be the few little things still with me in the nursing home when I am old and all else is gone.

Jeezus, I need a hobby.

Pickleope said...

I LOVE this. You are the master of working my (our) sentimentality. I started thinking of all the keepsakes scattered about my place. And touchstones is the perfect word for them.

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