Tuesday, August 09, 2011

The Stuff We're Made Of

Others have written about this subject far more eloquently than I will be able to, but I'm feeling a need to write about it anyway. (Actually, I'm feeling a need to avoid the Packing & Cleaning Beast that is currently hulking just behind my shoulder; its hot, fetid breath scorching the back of my neck.)

Anyway, a few years ago, I moved across country and gave away nearly everything I own except for a few very important items: computer stuff, art stuff, family stuff. It was so liberating that I swore I'd never accumulate so much stuff again.

Fast forward six years...

Where in the heck did all this stuff come from?! I'm not a rabid consumer - I'm not, I tell you!  Books, furniture, miscellanea - how did it accumulate?  Why did I allow it?  I was doing fine without a sofa - just a couple of folding chairs in the living room... wait!  That was my daughter who wanted a sofa so she wouldn't be embarrassed when her friends came over. And oh, yes! My boss was cleaning out her storage locker and had an old sofa to give away. 

Sofa explained. Check.

Come to think of it, most of the furniture I can attribute to my daughter's influence coinciding with people I know having junk they wanted to get rid of, and I took it on.  Sucker!

So, now I'm stuck trying to sort, pack, clean, and get rid of everything before the end of the month, and have no idea how I'll manage it.  I've made another vow that NEVER AGAIN will I fall prey to the "gotta have stuff" mindset.

However... I was recently also in the hospital. They took away my purse, my clothes, everything I had with me while I was getting ready to be moved from the ER to my room.  It nearly caused a major panic attack. Wait! You can't take my stuff!  I felt so stripped, so horrifyingly bare. 

As they made off with my things, I had a little roll of mints in my hand that they hadn't seen and I didn't mention.  I held onto those darned mints as if they were the Holy Grail and my key to salvation.  After all, who was I if all I had was what they had given me?  How could I function if I didn't have some of my own things with me?  Yet in just a few moments, I had another revelation. Nearly everything I've ever had was given to me at some point, and I was actually in the hospital because I hadn't been able to let go of things. 

I put the mints down before they wheeled me away. Now, I'm hoping that this time, I can leave everything else behind as well.


  1. The older I get, the less I want...and the more I want to get rid of much of the stuff I already have...who needs the burden?

  2. Gosh, Kate. You are brave.

    I cut down on a lot of my stuff for various reasons. I'd do more but my husband is the pack rat. And why do things seem to pile up? I hate that.

  3. It is amazing the hold that stuff has upon us. For me that is mostly my books, I think. But the other things are a comfort too. I've never been terribly acquisative, except for books, but the stuff piles up and up. I have a friend who is constantly giving stuff away. It's probably a better way to live, but hard for me to do.


  4. Mohamed, I agree with you about the burden. And congratulations on another speaking engagement. :)

  5. Edie, I don't know how brave I am. I'm actually finding it harder to let go of stuff this time around.

    I've been musing a lot lately on how I've let "things" identify me - as if who I am inside is only validated by what I've acquired outwardly. Which is, as I'm sure we both can agree, total BS.

  6. Charles, I've already set aside around 200 books to take to half-price books.

    Just today, I was going through some more bookshelves, and was having a hard time letting go of a book that I hadn't even fully read - and have owned for years. After clutching it tightly for several minutes, I realized that it would be one more thing to pack and deal with later, and suddenly it became "that book I can get at the library if I need to."

    It went into the "give away" pile.

  7. You know what Carlin're OK as long as you have a little bit of your stuff with you.

    As for me, I seem to need something about 5 minutes after I've tossed it out.

  8. Travis, I started to post a link to that video! It's a classic. :)

    And I know what you mean about needing things - I'm hoping that I've figured out enough of what I really need vs. what I want this time.

  9. Ghee me, I feel your pain, we moving next month so lets hope I can get rid of my stuff.:)

  10. Good luck, Drizel/Etain! :) Moving is always such a hassle.


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