table collection

I know this is going to feel silly, but follow me for a minute.  Web Urbanist featured a photographer who’s much cooler photos feature an individual’s carried items and one of the hands that brought those bits around.

Last night I looked at my coffee table, a mess for sure, but also a story about my little ol’ life.

It’s a collection of things that have something to say about me, and there was no forethought to their being there at all.

There’s a favorite scarf I bought back in 2005 at the advising of an ex girlfriend.  My landmom rolled it up and put it there on the table.
There’s the Peace Corps cookbook on the top right, a collection of recipes Peace Corps volunteers have passed down over the past 15 years or so.  From it I’ve learned to cook in my time here.  And when you look at the fruit & veg chart or one volunteer’s beer and wine guide, you get an actual, tangible feeling of legacy.
The two green bowls on the bottom are full of the sunflower seeds I’ve taken up munching.  It’s an Armenian tradition.  If you come to my neighborhood you’ll see the grandmothers, young men, daughters and fathers, sitting around talking and shucking seeds.  And now you’ll find me there as well, my pile of shells growing just as fast as theirs.
There’s a hat I knit and the arm of a monster that will be a gift for a friend.
That guy sitting with his feet in the water, he’s the top of a stack of cell phone cards I’ve covered with magazine pictures, ones I use as inspiration for stories and poems.
The wood is my homemade incense burner with the ashes of a stick I was given by a friend in Yerevan.
The bowl with spoon and fork was previously filled with chili my sitemate and I made at my house last week.
And there’s a photo of a friend and me at the top of a peak near Sante Fe, New Mexico.
The teapot was a gift from World Vision, my placement here, and was humbly presented to me last night in a pink biohazard bag from my close friend, Liana, who knew I’d love it.
There are walnuts on the table from the tree in our yard, and one special nut sits by the square green bowl. That nut was given to me by my Latvian friend who told me that at home they carry them in their pockets for good luck.

I love collecting things.  When I was in elementary school, I had a small box that I carried around while playing in the yard in the afternoon.  In it I collected odds and ends, knobs, nails, toy cars, discarded photographs.  Sometimes I spread all these items out and wondered at where they each came from, who might have held them before me, where they might end up.

When I looked at my table last night, I had an overwhelming feeling of connectedness.  The items on that table connect me to more than 10 people directly and even more than that when I think of all the hands and thoughts they’ve passed through to end up right there on my table.

I love what the things we carry say about us.  I wonder what’s on your table now and what it might be saying about you.


  1. You have a beautiful life, and beautiful thoughts Brent.

  2. This is very cool. Thanks!

  3. What a thoughtful way to look at life and all its messes.

    I’m inspired to share my table contents: Five Halloween placemats and two polk-dot ones, evidence that my family is blessedly large. Crumbs scattered all over them, evidence that we have food to eat. And one jack-o-lantern, pushed to the end of the table, evidence that we make room for joy and family and fullness.

  4. Christine

    I love this! I love reading your blog; it makes me still feel connected to you despite time & distance.

    Just a snapshot of what’s in front of me every day at work:

    I don’t know if you remember my ridiculously large musical snow globe collection… but it’s turned into a fondness for little ones. Left to right: from Mykonos, the first place we went for our honeymoon, I love NY, reminding me of a very special group of friends, Mardi Gras for my second home, Santander given to me by my mom from her trip to Spain and lastly, A&M.

    It’s weird how things represent such strong emotional ties.

    Anyhow. Hope you’re doing well. And I loved your bucket list! :D

  5. Latvian friend

    Great post my American friend :D Only I need to remind you that the “special nut” or chestnut should be carried in your pocket and not kept on the table because it is supposed to bring luck to you and not to the table :)

    1. Oh good grief you’re hilarious. Do you think if I start carrying it in my pocket my acquired luck will get you to move back to town!

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