The other day I was walking past a local charity shop and I saw a handbag in the window that just seemed so me. It was bigger than the one I’d been using, had lots of pockets, and was a neutral navy and brown leather that I could see going with pretty much everything I wear. It was big enough to carry a book or my journal but not so big that I’d weigh it down with loads of extra stuff.
I’m also fast approaching my return to work after a year’s maternity leave, so time is a big thing for me at the moment. Both the concept of time passing of course but also quite practically speaking: how am I going to manage my time to do everything I want to do?
This morning I watched The Labyrinth with my five-year-old. (Aside: I am so happy he’s really old enough to appreciate and watch it with me!)
And one of the scenes that has always stuck with me, and which struck me even as I watched it today for the thousandth time, is when Sarah (Jennifer Connelly) finds herself in the junkyard.
A hunched woman with piles of junk on her back tries to convince Sarah that her material possessions is what she was looking for. But as Sarah handles her various possessions – a teddy bear, a wind up dancer, a lipstick – Sarah remembers she is looking for her baby brother, who she needs to save from the Goblin King (David Bowie).
I am deeply repulsed by this image, of the darkening sky over a land of junk as far as the eye can see, as solitary figures dig to add more junk to their hunched and overloaded backs.
And whilst the metaphor is heavy handed and made for all ages to get, it remains powerfully apt for me.
We are drowning in junk
From the plastic piling up in our landfills and oceans to the rise in self storage because we have more stuff than we can fit in our homes, there is too much stuff.
And our homes have also become bigger than they once were. The 1905 workers cottage where I live was originally even smaller than it is now, having been extended during its lifetime to build a third room upstairs and a tiny kitchen and bathroom downstairs. I can’t imagine how a family of four might have lived here when it was just two rooms downstairs and two upstairs.