Add to Basket

We are receivers. Every day, every minute, we are collecting, whether we know it or not – images, sounds, stories. Ideas. And we react to these things, because it’s human to do so, and some make a deeper impression than others. 

Drawing of little red insect

But just because we’re picking things up all the time, it doesn’t mean we have to stow them all away and keep them – it is possible just to notice some things and then allow them to leave, even if at first this sounds improbable. It requires practice. 

I don’t have any difficulty knowing which things I should keep and which to let go – but negative things stick more readily and tenaciously than positive ones. It’s how we evolved. It’s said that you need the conscious awareness of five positive things to balance out one negative one, because the negative is so much more powerfully drawn to our attention.  

Drawing of coriander

I’ve started keeping an imaginary basket that I collect things in. I choose these things, and at the end of each day I can take them out one at a time and look at them again, and feel the same sensation I had when I first encountered them…. like the red and black flying beetle that landed on the garden wall, and stayed for a few moments in the sun before flying off before I could identify it. Or like the smell of coriander when I was chopping it at lunchtime. And the children I watched one afternoon running around in the playground after their karate class while older people walked their dogs, or just stood around in the sunshine. 

Sketches of karate kids and man with dog

These are the things I can draw. There are other things that can’t be sketched, like the wood-pigeon and the blackbird that I hear when I’m sleepily awake at 6.00 am, and the taste of the melted dark chocolate sauce I made yesterday with brandy mixed in it to pour on vanilla ice cream. 

These are just a few of the things in my basket, and writing this I’ve tasted them all over again – but I realise what may be even more important is that now I’ve shared them as well. Good things are meant for sharing. 

The idea of a basket of collected memories is not my own. I wish it were, but I first heard of it from my mother, who inherited it in turn from a dear friend of my sister, so it kind of runs in the family. 

In the UK, when you shop online and choose your purchases you collect them by clicking ‘add to basket’. In the US this would be ‘add to cart’ which to me always sounds mildly hilarious because it conjures up images of a chunky wooden wheeled horse-drawn sort of a thing. In supermarkets in England we use a trolley…….or a basket. 

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6 thoughts on “Add to Basket

  1. What a timely post – for me anyway – I just went through a few file drawers and got rid of some old papers. Which to keep, which to let go… Your drawings are delightful, and your sensitive writing is, too.

    Sensual pleasures – if you don’t draw or record or communicate them in some way, many disappear – but that’s OK too, it makes room for new ones. Thank you for passing some of yours along.

  2. In a public library you may wait on 100 perfectly charming people in an afternoon, but it’s the one rude tool whose memory you’ll take home with you. I should tell my staff to make baskets of the nice people to override the jerks.

  3. Just read your post as I am starting yet another workday that probably isn’t going to bring me much satisfaction. I’ve been dwelling far too much on work negatives lately, so your words of wisdom have given me cause to pause. You’re right about the basket metaphor too – so much more lovely and less industrial sounding than a cart!

    1. Sorry ignore previous incomplete reply – it’s good to hear from you! As you can imagine I wrote this because I needed it, much as you say you do – so commiserations, and glad it was appropriate for you too!

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