I recently invested in a duplicate of a favorite Barbour vest (the Liddesdale Gilet, in black, if you’re interested), to insure I’d have a replacement if the first one, which has been an ideal everyday, riding, and travel garment, should vanish or wear out. Then I realized that I would not likely wear out the first one, given its sturdy construction and my remaining actuarial-table life expectancy of 23.1 years. While my family history suggests that I may last perhaps a decade beyond the actuarial prediction (even adjusting for bad behavior and forseeable risks), I still won’t wear out either of those well-made gilets.
I now have all I’ll ever need of so many other things, too: boots; saddles and other horse tack; pots, pans, cups, mugs, glasses, plates, and silverware; wool blankets; hand tools; Christmas ornaments; wood furniture; jewelry; fleece jackets; handbags. The list could grow larger, and it will, as time grows shorter.
Looking now at the items that will probably outlast me, I wistfully wonder about their probable future: incineration, trash heap, thrift store, junk shop, dusty attic? Will some of them eventually find new homes or even new uses? Will any of my essence remain with them? Maybe yes to the first inquiry; likely no to the second. It’s our nature to hope that we can go on in some form, even as a few molecules or bits of DNA trapped in a well-used saddle or an often-worn vest.
In the meantime, it is freeing to note that my days of hunting and foraging for goods, through shops, catalogues, and websites, are necessarily ending. I no longer need to accumulate tangible things against an ephemeral future. But it is good to know that some things did last this long, and will outlast me; artifacts of a small life, but one so very much enjoyed.