Used

While doing unabashed snooping for Valentine’s Day gifts, I asked my boyfriend what kinds of things he likes.  That’s a pretty general question, right?

His reply:  Things that become more of themselves the more that they are used.

Huh? 

Here’s a good example of this:  we were in Pottery Barn a few weeks back and spotted a long, dark wood dining table.  It looked aged, weathered, had many grooves and nicks in it but retained a rustic charm.  It reminded us both of the dining table up at his family’s cabin:  it showed many signs of its age but that gave it a “lived-in” quality.

Who (besides me, duh) prefers used books to new ones?  Loves antiquing or thrifting?  Wears only vintage jewelry/clothing?  Maybe you feel the same way.

There’s my favourite daily coffee mug:  bought at a shop called JUNK in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.  It’s a mug stolen from a Tim Horton’s, a chain of coffee shops that are very popular near where my grandmother lives.  I love this mug because I know it had a life before me, and the more love I give it (every morning at 5am!), the more it becomes a mug that may have seen the world!

But then, as I often do, I got to thinking of Things that become more of themselves the more that they are used as a metaphor.  What if we become more human the more we get used?  I can certainly dig it:

You could say that we become more human the more we use our senses.  The more we allow ourselves to taste exotic new foods, or enrich our memory through smells, the more we become cultured.  The more we use our sense of sight and sound to take in the world around us and allow ourselves to be moved by art in music, doesn’t that make us more human?  Using our senses is the way we connect to our environment and what could be more humanizing than that?

You could theorize that we become more human the more we use our bodies.  Pushing ourselves to hike, stretch, lift, run, swim, even hang from a trapeze is using our body and connecting us to our physical being, making us more present in our bodies.  The things we do to treat ourselves: massage, hot baths, and yes of course sex – using our bodies to experience joy is also such a humanizing experience.  And of course – dancing!  Joyously translating a burst of sound into moving your body to express happiness – what could be more human than that?

But what about the ways we use our emotional selves?  Couldn’t you argue that we become more human when we experience great depths of emotion – the sadness of losing a loved one, the joy of falling in love again?  Facing our fears, challenging ourselves, revelling in a love of learning and committing to grow – those must of course make us more human.  Perhaps the more we gain practice in being a human, having feelings, feeling things – the more human we become.  Isn’t that a lovely way to cope with sadness, and celebrate joy?  To know that in your darkest times, or your happiest moments, you are feeling more and more what it means to be alive?

I guess I think it’s a beautiful thing.  Aren’t we all so lucky to have a life?  Shouldn’t we want to use it all up as much as we possibly can while we’re here?  I think all the scars and all the stories we can accumulate during the time we have all add up to a life well used.

vintage ring from the Brooklyn Night Bazaar on a well-used hand

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