At some point, accumulation becomes a curse. As one enters the age of the endgame—EF 82, CB 81—you begin to lie awake in the dark hearing the choir intone, “You can’t take it with you.”
Money is easy. We made our wills long ago, realizing that drunk drivers proliferate.The bank accounts offered little challenge. They’re just electrons and store easily. We have to depend on the good will and good sense of our kids in dividing up the other stuff of value, house and car and the like. The rest of it is what keeps me awake at night.
Books galore, some artwork, furniture, and tons of knickknacks. I can only say take what you like and junk the rest, or invite the hordes to descend to loot it. Neither kid has room for much: one lives in Italy, the other in a San Francisco apartment already stacked to the brim with books.
What’s more perplexing is our product: stacks of our printed books and manuscripts, videos, boxes of reviews & press, and eighteen large bins of puppets. If we’d gotten famous, we could donate it as archive material, but we’ve always flown under the radar in mainstream theatre, alternative theatre, public radio, puppetry, and fiction. And mostly way under the under-the-radar.
Not a big problem for me that it all gets junked. I say that repeatedly, and might believe it someday. But the truth is, my work is just one step down from my kids. Of course the kids don’t sit in a shelf, they don’t get stored in bins, they don’t proliferate, they grow and change. They’re their own creatures.
But a playscript or a novel or a puppet is a child to me, as Jeff Bezos’ net worth is a creature to him. It’s part of who I am, and we fight for survival, just as the Argentinian ants, attracted by my muffin crumbs at the keyboard, scurry around to avoid my malevolent pinch. I’ve had many other fellow artists pass—it seems to be a common thing at this age—but I’ve never had a conversation with them, since they’re dead, about what they’ve left behind.
Ir’s a crapshoot, as I learned from being on grants panels. Something gets said, and the whole discussion shifts. Ten thousand bucks vanishes or looms in the blink of an eye. (And those were the days when ten thousand bucks was a lot of money.) You can only live the life that you live. You can only spawn the work that you spawn. All the rest is the movement of tectonic plates, making the mountains rise or the sea gush in.