Like a lot of people resolving in January to do things differently or better or more or less, I committed myself to working on my values in three tangible ways, and blogging about it weekly. The first couple of things I’m dedicating myself to practicing weekly are like a lot of people’s resolutions: go outside more! Keep this one area of life clean and pretty! Blah blah blah … you’ve heard shit like that before from all kinds of folks. But my third values-magnifier is probably not something anybody else is devoting a year of mindful practice to.
The third way I’m connecting to and meditating on my values is through an object I treasure: my dancing bananas ashtray.
It’s cheap metal. I think it cost about $2.57 over a decade ago, wrapped in crinkly cellophane. I DON’T EVEN SMOKE but when I saw it, I had to have it. I’ve kept it ever since.
There are a lot of things I’ve bought compulsively, but there’s something special about my dancing bananas. I need them on my nightstand. Sometimes I forget about them, but whenever I pick them up I get a surge of some kind of rightness that cuts through everything else competing for my attention as Most Important. I experience a rare sense of easy and relaxed happiness; THIS is CLEARLY what’s most important: my dancing bananas ashtray.
If I were to measure the worth of all of my possessions against this Most Treasured ashtray and throw away everything I don’t love as much? Pretty sure my environment and priorities would be cleaner, happier, and more in keeping with my honest values and aesthetics.
Classy People with Good Taste would dismissively call it kitsch. If they were giving me the benefit of the doubt they’d assume I love it as kitsch. I DON’T. It is a fucking spiritual touchstone and perfect example of beauty in my eyes. My dancing bananas remind me what makes human so lovable and fucked-up: our imaginations.
If you do not love my dancing bananas, I’m pretty sure you’ve advanced yourself into a profound disability that renders you unable to find comfort or delight in basic human yum yum. I do not want to spend a single night in your dry complicated irrational land of sophistication. I will stay here where we tell each other stories of saucy faceless slow-dancing fruits dipping their toes in gluttony’s sweet hot goo.
Like many Americans, I have way too many things. Many of them I value so much that I’m afraid to use them, even though they’re mostly worth nothing. So I’m going to check in every week with my dancing bananas to remember what it’s all about, this thing called (my) life.