This afternoon, I set myself the task of going through a desk that I had used when we lived in New Bedford, but which has since then stood in the garage. I found stationery I had forgotten about, a brass button that had come off my blue blazer, blank checks from a bank that is now defunct, and a set of keys to my parents’ old house. For some reason now forgotten, the keys were on a key ring that originally had held the keys to a 1969 Plymouth Valiant automobile I once owned, an automobile (not that it matters) which I had purchased from a direct lineal descendant of Ralph Waldo Emerson.
The sight of the key to the porch door instantly brought back a vivid image of walking up to my parents’ house and letting myself in. This was a disturbing image because when dad sold the house after my mother’s death, the new owners tore it down; nothing from it had been salvaged but everything merely thrown away; while in its place a tawdry three-story mansionette was erected, the new building extending to the absolute limits of what the zoning regulations allowed.
This train of thought led immediately to a consideration of the vanity of human endeavor. This is why I do not like to clean out desk drawers and make them tidy: better, I think, to let some things lie unseen.