The Way of the Word

16. December 2009

Inanimate Souls

Filed under: general,Uncategorized — jensaltmann @ 13:13
Tags: , ,

There is a charity for children here in Germany, sponsored by a major publishing company. These days, they have set up a donation drive at one of the shopping malls here in Hamburg, asking people to donate toys and games, so that they can be given to children in need.

A worthy cause, children. As it happened, I had two boxes full with plushies in the basement. I didn’t really collect plushies, they had just sort of accumulated. When I got married, I needed space, so I packed them off into the boxes and stored them in the basement. When I discovered that charity effort, I thought it would be a good idea to donate the plushies. It’s better that they make some children happy (or at least a little bit happier), rather than that they collect dust in my basement, right?

Right.

For some reason, however, I kept forgetting to pick out the plushies that I wanted to donate. I finally did it yesterday. I filled up a huge box with plushies and took them to the charity’s counter.

After I did, I felt immensely miserable. I didn’t feel happy that these toys would now make children happy, I felt miserable because I had lost them. It felt as if I had given up tiny pieces of my soul.

Shut up, you sentimental idiot. Get over it or get therapy.

I mean, who in his right mind gets maudlin’ over a box full of plushies, right? It’s a dumb thing, completely idiotic.

And yet…

The answer came to me during the rest of that evening. As I have already mentioned, these plushies had just kind of accumulated. They were more than just toys. Each of them had a story to it, a memory, an emotional connection. It’s something I should have realized when I had to stop myself from telling those stories to the woman at the charity counter.

There is a plushie, for example, that I had bought during the first vacation I had ever taken all by myself. It was a strange city, I didn’t know the language, I had nobody to talk with, my feet were actually bleeding from walking too much. Then there was this aviator bear, sitting in a toy store’s window. I saw it, it made me laugh, so I bought it.

Then there is that plushie dog. There had been a box of them at a department store’s toy section. I had reached out to look at one of the others. Somehow this one was catapulted out of the box (really like leaping up), and it landed in the crook of my arm, face up as if it were looking at me. I took the hint and bought it.

Then there is that UNICEF bear. I had loved its texture, so soft and cuddly, and 10% of the purchase price went to UNICEF. So I bought it.

Each of these plushies is more than just a decorative toy. Each carries a memory, a happy memory. What made me feel bad about giving them up for this charity was not losing the toy. No, it was handing the memory over to someone else. By giving those toys, I actually gave away parts of myself, more than I had intended. That was what hurt. I could no longer look at those toys any time I wanted to and be reminded of the happy or strange circumstance that had brought them into my life.

I’m not a metaphysical person. I don’t believe in energy transference and things like that. But when I think of the parts of myself that I gave away yesterday, I hope that there is something to it. Each of the toys that I donated yesterday has a history. It was loved, and it is connected to some happy memory. If there is something to that energy transference hypothesis, then the love and the happy memories will be imprinted in the toys, and bring some of it to the children that will receive them on Christmas Eve. That would make it worthwhile.

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