The box of rocks

We always hold onto something to which others assign value; meanwhile, could that object have more real value for someone else who would actually love it?

BRATTLEBORO — Waste (also known as rubbish, trash, refuse, garbage, junk, and litter) is unwanted or useless material. Wastes are materials that are not prime products for which initial users have no further use in terms of their own purposes of production, transformation, or consumption, and of which they want to dispose.

A landfill site (also known as tip, dump, or rubbish dump and historically as a midden) is a site for the disposal of waste materials.

A midden is an old dump for domestic waste and other artifacts and ecofacts associated with past human occupation. The word is used by archaeologists worldwide to describe any kind of feature containing waste products relating to day-to-day human life.

Middens might be convenient, single-use pits created by nomadic groups or long-term, designated dumps used by sedentary communities that accumulate over several generations.

* * *

When my beloved proposed to me, he did so with a big bang: a 3½-karat platinum diamond ring, bestowed upon him by his grandmother (and bestowed upon her from her betrothed's grandmother).

Two smaller stones sat on either side of a larger rock, which displayed grandly in the center. Symbolically, the three rocks represented me and my two young boys - a family that Mark was marrying, not just a wife.

It was beautiful. Grand. Stunning. Like nothing I'd ever owned.

I wore the ring proudly for the first year. The family jewels rang out, gloriously announcing the ring's presence. The three majestic stones stood, gaping, proclaiming their magnificence. Friends gawked at and coveted the exquisite piece.

The exquisite stones rested in regal settings. These settings jutted the stones upwardly, creating opportunities to thwack walls and bump into low-hanging objects. The diamonds would bang into cabinets and counters and drawers.

The setting corners would catch on sweaters and pull at the ends of strings. Bread dough and bacon grease would become stuck in the crevices. Sometimes, I would scratch my face with the sharp edges of the facets.

The ring was expensive. Not to say it was valuable, which it also was. But, it was expensive to wear: Insuring the ring cost about $200 per year.

I wear sweat pants and schlumpy shirts. My father refers to my sister and me as Vogue and Vague, respectively.

Wearing the ring resembled shining a turd. I felt odd, like when one purchases a new pillow and suddenly the old couch looks out of place, which leads to a domino-tumbling of redecorating the living room and then, eventually, the entire house.

I didn't want to redecorate. And I didn't want to burn 55 cents a day, an act that was reminding me that this 3½-karat beauty was now running my life.

So I thanked my husband and then returned the magnificent beast to the bank vault, where it sits to this day.

I like to think of my ring as my Box of Rocks.

* * *

What differentiates between a 3½-karat diamond ring in a platinum setting from 1852 and a handful of rocks gathered in a driveway from yesterday?


If it doesn't hold value to you and your culture, it's a box of rocks.

The ring sits in a box. It will sit there until I die, and then I will “leave” it to someone. Someone will hand someone that box of rocks.

If the rocks do not fit the lifestyle or are considered too valuable, that person might say “put it away.”

That box of rocks will remain “in safekeeping” for its next owner. For all I know, someone could have already replaced that ring in the security chamber for a real box of rocks. I'd never know.

Now, we're not supposed to sell or give away these rocks; these rocks are valuable. They are worth something, and they might come in handy, some rainy day.

Except that the rainy day never comes, because we always assume there will be a rainier day, so we had better hold onto the precious rocks.

The rain finally pours into our coffin, and someone else inherits the right to hold onto these rocks until they die.

Meanwhile, the rocks remain hidden in the midden. The beautiful ring dies over and over, tragically, because it needs to “be in the family” rather than enjoyed by someone who would appreciate it.

* * *

I don't buy it. It's bullshit to cling onto stagnating items that hold no value to you. Free them up; sell or give them away.

Allow that energy to circulate, instead of rotting congested in a bed of Shoulds and Coulds and Mights: I should keep this. It might come in handy some day. I should appreciate this. It could be more valuable later on. We might need the money.

It's tragic that this beautiful ring sits in a box in a bank. Don't tell me to “just wear it”; you're telling me to be someone I'm not, and that, too, is a tragedy.

* * *

How many boxes of rocks do you have? How much is sitting in your house and yard and garage and in shelves and drawers and basements and parents' attics and security boxes and storage bins, waiting for the day that these rocks should and could and might come in handy?

Do you own a home or a landfill?

How much of your energy and time and money - how much of your life - is wasted, perpetuating the midden?

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