Shortly after I graduated college - my favorite professor - who had painted an orange trapezoid in the breakfast nook of her kitchen just because she could - looked out her window, sipping her coffee.
"Your stuff is your history," she'd said, turning her attention back to me.
I was probably lamenting to her that life didn’t work on a barter system. I was fresh off the heels of my Communications Degree, and was in my minimalist phase, wanting to own nothing more than my guitar and Birkenstocks. (Which I still have…) And I wasn’t motivated by money.
A Few months out of college, I wrote a proposed a salary of “just enough” on a job application. I proposed that I wanted just enough money to pay my bills and have some left over for dinner and a movie. I can imagine now the chuckles from the HR person who, seeing my college graduation date, must have laughed at my naivety.
I had just left the convent where the nuns, for the most part, owned relatively little. "Things" seemed evil to me - having too much stuff seemed greedy, and like it could distract you from the really important purpose of life.
Even now, despite my well known affinity for shoes, clothes, and technology, I could probably be satisfied with my laptop, guitar and a small collection of clothes.
But I've never forgotten what my professor said that day in her kitchen. Our stuff is our history.
Two weeks ago, we got a new pub table at the gym. I doubt anybody noticed - the new table was so similar that I wouldn’t have known had I not been present for the exchange. But as Josh removed the table, I made him stop.
"My life changed forever at this pub table," I said, and Chris nodded. I'd sat with Doug at that pub table for the first time on February 12th 2015. I'd just started a job at Bates College, and knew that's not where I wanted to be. I met Doug through an online network (my contact had a former intern who worked with Doug - his name is Trent Dubois). So on a snowy February evening, I sat with Doug and talked about my goals, my ambitions, and my dreams.
Many of you have sat at that pub table, and many of you are still thinking about it. Some of you have sat with Doug or Trent and you've tried to answer the same questions about yourself - what do you want? What are your goals? What do you need? How can we help?
In so many ways, that table is just a thing. A singular thing - a forgotten piece of furniture that, had I not been there to see it, would not have realized was even different. But that pub table held an important story for me - and I love stories.
But how how very, very, very right you were Dr. Marsters, that our stuff is our history.
That’s my #spurlingstory - what’s yours?