Signal Fire by Tyler Knott Gregson
Signal Fire by Tyler Knott Gregson
Mountains Left Behind | 9.10.23

Mountains Left Behind | 9.10.23

The Sunday Edition

We are what we leave behind, but perhaps only to those that didn’t know that we were much more. We will go, one day we will go, and when we do there will be a wake behind us, a Moses-like splitting of the great waters we lived in, and there on the floor of the sea, newly dry, will be all we could not carry into the next place. My goodness, there is so much we cannot carry.

We’re the shit, in the end, the mountains and mountains of shit that we leave behind. We’re the ten million things purchased on whim and waited for at home as the brown boxes with the familiar Amazon smile float and spin around the world, fill trucks to the rooftops, and ping our little phones with delivery updates. We’re the impulse purchases, and we’re the things bought to keep up with the styles, the trends, the times that can’t help but pass us by. We’re the things we sold, but then bought again at a markup because what we swore would never again be in fashion, is in fact, in fashion again. We’re the shoes without tread, and those to replace them, the justifications for the thin excuses as to why we need them at all. We’re all the kitchen gadgets stuffed into those strange corner cabinets, the juicers, the rice makers, the blenders that could decimate an iPhone but struggle to keep spinning when you’re making a damn smoothie. We’re the cars, the two cars in a 1.5 car garage, the cd players, the DVDs that we still own though don’t own a way to watch them. We’re the sixteen jackets for the sixteen types of weather we swear we’ll need them for. We’re the boots, the flipflops, the sandals, the sneakers. We’re the stuff, we’re the Everest sized behemoth of stuff, of pure shit built to fall apart, we’re all the junk we swore to ourselves we wanted, that we even needed so desperately, only to discover that we never did at all.

What then when we go? What for those still left here without us, what do they do with the stacks upon stacks of stuff we accumulated? What with the sweaters, the socks, the skis only used a time or two? What becomes of the things we collected, what emotions tied to the little bits of plastic, of wood, of glass, or metal? Do they keep or do they dump, do they sell, and if they do, what then does that say of how they feel for us?

We are not the houses we buy, nor the vehicles we use to get from A to B, we know this inside, though may lose sight from time to time. But to them, what then to them, all those here decorated with sorrow, with sadness, perhaps with relief?

We have been here, the lot of us, wandering through estate sales with bits of masking tape littered across the face of so many things, lamps to trunks, old vacuums to television sets, laughing to ourselves at the prices picked. “$40 for this?!” say we, and scoff, and walk on, forgetting that the lamp we giggle over warmed the night’s darkness for someone real, someone here once, now gone. It’s just stuff though, isn’t it? Just inanimate crap that gets left, and becomes the burden of the executors chosen while faculties remained to do the choosing. To those that kept it, more perhaps, but in the end, just stuff, just bits and bobs to fill the spaces we inhabit, to wear over the skin we were born in.

“I’ve never seen a hearse pulling a uHaul,” my dad always likes to say, though he too has so many things he’s collected along the way. Our memories are in some of them, some of the items that get chosen to remain, but they are ours, in the end. Some may be shared, but that sharing is usually small, isolated between the few. The reality is, when we go, there will be storage units worth of things no one has any idea what to do with, and feels guilty for all the same.

Perhaps then, this is a call for less, a call for the pre-whittling before the going of it all. Perhaps we should give out and give away the excess we have but do not need, perhaps we should reduce the owning down to the functional, or to the truly beautiful and worthy of possession. Less, but more, fewer, but better, maybe this the new mantra we’ve needed longer than we realize. I do not need 10 of a thing, but 2 will do.

It takes loss to understand this, it takes going through it to realize the truth that Chuck got right in Fight Club, that the things you own, end up owning you. We are more than the things, the tchotchkes, the bric-à-brac that hitchhikes its way on the journey we call life. We aren’t the travel trailers filled to brim, we aren’t the estate sale lamps, the antique ironing boards, the typewriters, the pots or pans. Far too often I’ve seen the strife and the angst, the inability to separate the stuff from the soul, and I sadden at this. I’ve seen fights start over bedroom sets, over kitchen chairs, or percentages of land, and I think not of those squabbling, but of those who have left us. I think of their shudder, their shake at the voices raised over such silly things. Perhaps if it was less about the junk, and more about the people, more about the memories made on the adventures taken, less about the souvenirs, there’d be nothing left to fight over, there’d be nothing but a shared stillness, when the going comes of those that go.

We are more, or we were once and could be again. We aren’t the mountain ranges of purchases, though we’ll leave some behind. Let us start then the whittling, the slimming, the giving away.

Let us start, and surrender only perfect hills, not mountains, let us find the seabed so nearly empty in the wake of our leave.

Mountains left behind,

all that we ever wanted,

but never needed.

Haiku on Life by Tyler Knott Gregson

Song of the Week

Signal Fire by Tyler Knott Gregson
Signal Fire by Tyler Knott Gregson
Tyler Knott Gregson and his weekly "Sunday Edition" of his Signal Fire newsletter. Diving into life, poetry, relationships, sex, human nature, the universe, and all things beautiful.