It’s lovely to stop and take a breath sometimes during our hectic lives. To become aware of what’s around us, even if just for a moment. Some people find loose change. Dimes and pennies, maybe the occasional quarter. Some just take in the natural surroundings of wherever they might be. I see old, cast off, rusted nuts.
The reason I happen to find these types of things where as others find their own ‘whatever’ can sort of be described by this here. I’d put some stock in that concept. But it’s just too darn easy to wile away such happenings–sometimes years apart–as some trick of the mind. That’s because I believe that the Baader-Meinhof phenomenon is short lived (hence the other term used to describe it as the recency illusion, and yes I see what I did there, too). If you see that car you were thinking about buying, then you ultimately decide on a different car, you don’t keep seeing the same car that you didn’t buy. And even if so, not nearly as much as the car you did actually purchase.
Several years back when I first started seeing these little leftover bits of purpose, my first thought was why this? I should be seeing lots of happy children, completed manuscripts, peace in the world. These were the things I was focusing on, anyhow. For the most part, those things didn’t materialize everywhere I looked. Yet, these little guys were everywhere: at work, out during a weekend excursion, even littering the sidewalk as I walked my dogs.
I enjoyed the concept they elicited: something of utility, cast off, reborn as an impetus for something or someone else in a clear, distinguishable way. They became my muse for a time. The ideas they brought forward, ideas of revisiting cast off things, and breathing new life, new working/material purpose into them…such a concept was and is dear to me. I’ve worked with folks who have done very well taking old, useless materials and creating masterpieces from them. The whole ‘one’s trash is treasure to another’ notion, alive and in use. The idea itself isn’t so radical or new, but the things, the ideas and creations some folks come up with by using what was generally thought as useless–that lights my fire.
In the end, of all the things I could have been seeing everywhere, these little rusted nuts weren’t what I would have expected. So, they became just another cool concept, and that (I thought) was that.
Over the past five years or so I’ve come across so many that I’ve lost track. Most of them I just leave there. Sometimes I pick them up, and they make their new home somewhere visible in my office. A windowsill or beside the stapler. Somewhere I know I’ll see it every now and again. And even when I do, I don’t expect to see a flood of them, out there in the world. That doesn’t happen. They come in batches, spaced apart through time.
Outside of the Baader-Meinhof camp, there are some wild theories and conjecture about why people have such experiences, be they old rusted nuts, or dimes. Just do a quick Google and you’ll be amazed, especially about the dimes. Reasons abound, but I rather think it’s one part individually contrived meaning, two parts mystery.
I’m the type of person that has sixteen irons in the fire at any given time. For whatever reason I get the feeling that, someday, out there in future land, I’ll end up pursuing something that’ll involve these little gifts I find from time to time. Not sure what exactly. But whatever it is, it’ll produce new life for an old, purposeless ‘thing.’ And that makes me feel really, really good.
What is your ‘rusted nut?’