Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Stuart and Dave, Peter and Abby

I was talking to my friend Will Briarwood earlier today.

“Do you know who Peter Walsh is?”

The name sounds familiar…

“He’s a professional organizer, he used to be on Clean Sweep.”

I remember – covivant and I watched that show for a while.

“We saw him on Oprah recently, talking about his new book, and getting all philosophical.”

They did not get into that Secret stuff, did they?

“No, not that kind of philosophy. Peter helps people get rid of the clutter in their lives, and he said that people generally have two kinds of clutter.”

Which are…

“Stuff that they associate with memories, and stuff that they think they might need one day. So half of their stuff is from the past, and half is for the future, so they’re not living for today. Or something like that.”

That makes sense. I know I have lots of stuff in each of those categories.

“Well, as usual, it got me thinking about other stuff, and people.”

Is this about stuff that you are saving, that has memories of family, or people you knew?

“Not physical stuff, no.”

Umm – what are we talking about here, Will?

“Let me tell you whom I was thinking about – Stuart Adamson, and the Hoodoo Gurus, and my friend Abby from college.”


“Stuart Adamson was the singer / guitarist / songwriter for Big Country. I bought their first couple records, and then kind of lost interest in them. I bought their last record after he died, and found myself feeling guilty that I had not followed his career.”


“Not the right word, maybe. But I felt like I should have stayed with them longer, that I had missed out on something.”

Same for the Hoodoo Gurus?

“Yeah. Except that Dave Faulkner – the singer / guitarist / songwriter – is still alive. I bought their first few records, and again, lost interest.”

Ummm – you do know that, as a fan, you are not really obligated to keep buying their music forever?

“I know, I know. Mary says I’m – what’s the word, transferring? I’m transferring my feelings about something, or someone else to the music I listen to.”

You mentioned your friend, Abby?

“Yeah. Let me say first, that I had a bunch of good friends back in college, and kept in touch with them for many years, but eventually I stopped seeing them, then we stopped calling, and now I think we just get one Christmas card from that group of people. So it’s not just Abby.”

Who was she?

“I met her through another friend in college – I think she was someone’s roommate. I’m not sure of the last time I saw her – maybe like fifteen years ago, a few years after she got married.”


“…and she died a couple years ago.”


“She was forty-nine, I think. I read her name in the alumni newsletter, in the ‘Deaths’ column. Then I went and found her obituary in the Tribune.”

People do go on different paths, and lose touch over the years.

“I know, I know. It was just a shock to see her obituary – I think she was the first friend of mine that died. And then it was kind of an unhappy realization that none of my other friends from back then had let me know that she died, or that she was sick – the obituary mentioned a ‘battle with cancer.’”

Maybe they had lost touch with her, too.

“Maybe. I guess. So anyway, I was thinking about what Peter Walsh said, and I started looking at the stuff I have in our basement, and started thinking about things that I’m keeping for the memories – cd’s from bands that I stopped listening to, or junk from college days.”

Umm… I think we are just touching lightly on a heavy subject, Will.

“I know. Peter Walsh also has lots to say about the reasons that people save clutter. And that it’s one thing to go through your old lp’s, or cd’s, or through your closet, or basement, and attic, and then the garage…”

But it is another thing…

“It’s two other things. One is to address the reasons that we need to hang onto so much stuff – physical clutter, I mean. And it’s another thing to deal with friends who are gone. Or who are still around, but just not in our lives.”

So which are you going to do first?

“I think I’m going to play an old Big Country record, and then an old Hoodoo Gurus record or two.”


“And then, what I’m going to do, is throw out some stuff that I really don’t need any more.”

What about the old friends? Going to give someone a call, or maybe an e-mail or a letter?

“Still working through that.”

Well, good luck with that.

“Thanks. Leave us with a Big Country lyric, won’t you?”

“I dreamed I heard that you were dead
I dreamed I searched an empty bed
For a sign of you”

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