Tuesday, March 15, 2011

object memory

i was cutting fruit for the amazons' breakfast the other morning and i was overwhelmed by a sense of sadness. looking at the rows of organic strawberries neatly laid into the plastic boxes, i could almost see the fingers of the mexican workers carefully placing them there, the big ones at the bottom, the small on top.

i remembered reading somewhere about the way the migrant workers are treated, the abuse at the hands of foremen and business owners. i remembered reading about "the fields of panties" - where pretty young girls are raped between the rows.

i don't know if my particular box of strawberries came to wholefoods that way. i don't know if i was feeling particularly sensitive or if the articles just flashed into my mind at that moment.

but it occurred to me that objects might retain a memory, an energetic impression, of the emotions of the people who touched them or used them.

as i sliced the strawberries, i wondered about things, our every day things here in this first world, in this modern, convenient, upper middle class world and whether their journeys to us could infuse us with their sadness or satisfaction.

is it a purely poetic thought that food grown in pain would bring suffering to our bodies as we ingest it?

or that clothing pieced together by political prisoners, toys made underpaid children, would introduce yearning and hunger to our nervous systems.

there is a story - is it medea? where she makes a dress for her husband's new wife and the minute it touches the new wife's skin, it burns her alive, so that she experiences the pain that medea feels.

i wear a pair of burmese earrings my grandmother left me. she didn't leave them to me exactly, but an uncle bequeathed them to me since he is not married.

i don't know if they are the most beautiful earrings but when i wear them and look at my ears, i see my grandmother's pale pink earlobes. i feel i disappear into her, as reality bends, just for a few seconds. i can feel her love of opulence and magnificence.

my teenaged daughters are wearing saris that my mother brought back from india and i wonder if they can feel the hands of the tailor who used to use a pedal operated sewing machine when i was a teenager and is now part of the "new india" with a cell phone and a fancy electric machine - though his living conditions don't quite keep up. the new india is not so good for everyone.

if our objects, our clothes, our stuff, retain the emotions of their last owners or creators, then we have a responsibility to ourselves as well as to our consciences to look after the laborers who make them.