Updated: Jun 3, 2019
When I imagine a house, I always see it as having a cupboard. A great cupboard that is a whole wall or its own storeroom, in fact, at the very least a dominant set of shelves. There may be other, smaller cupboards in the house, but there must be this cupboard.
It often has good, wooden doors which can be locked, just in case. It has room to keep a stock of everything. It is capacious. It is filled, but you can always find everything in it and there is always room for a little more, with shadows cast by jars against boxes in the light from the torch you’re holding. It’s the night the storm has broken.
It’s exciting, a peril turned into a thrill, because you have the cupboard to go to in the storm.
More than a comfort, its organised sections and collections of things, the space it gives to you to provide for yourself on dark nights and in cold days, giving you a thing that you can always do, if someone is hurt or an emergency has emerged; you never have to stand and wish or want, because you can go to the cupboard. One that you have prepared. You know its coordinates and always fetch just what you need and no more.
In the first museums, when rich collectors built personal collections in their fine homes, they organised them in harmony. They divided the elements, placing things together or apart to bring order where there might be chaos. In doing so, they knew they brought focus and balance to their collection, but they also sometimes seemed to think it helped to bring balance to the outside world as well. The gathered objects were still connected and still influenced the greater place from which they came.
A storm cupboard is no different. It gives the chance to have personal order in the chaos of the world and to help the forces of order in the world at large. Nature has order, order is not an unnatural thing. It is not Nature that has brought the disorder of the current world.
There are many things that you could rebel against. Some of them might be futile, others might turn into regrets when you are old. We have an instinct toward connection, toward provision and readiness and responsibility and order. The power to practice this instinct is often denied us or impinged upon or belittled by the chaotic structure and short-term, consumerist disposition of current life. (Is isn’t “modern” life, you know, only current life.) This life rarely encourages spacious homes, we are dictated to accept minimal living space for maximum price. We are rarely allowed cupboards or gardens, only “storage solutions” which are never the same. I think it would be empowering to rebel against this, to choose this rebellion. To claim the space, literally, emotionally, mentally, maybe all three, to take care of ourselves and the small patch of the world that is ours. There is enough powerlessness in the world without accepting more of it for ourselves.
If we recycle, people we know will be more likely to recycle too. If we adjust our diet to be a little more sustainable, others will be more likely to do the same. We normalise these things and give others the courage to join in. We have influence over the immediate world, which is always connected to the larger world. If we adapt our homes and living conditions to look after ourselves, whether to administer first aid, whether to have cough medicine on hand, whether to have a hook for reusable shopping bags, or simply to take time to notice and mend, we enfranchise ourselves to bring balance to our portion of life. To let the order of Nature return. In sustainable living there is a chance for the future of the planet, but there is a chance for us as well. We can rebel against a self-accepted, self-protracted habitat that is too small even for the idea of cupboards.