I’d like to make an observation or two about stuff. Having sold everything I own in the last three weeks I have a whole new perspective on the precious things we spend our time and money accumulating. We all have too much stuff.
We came into this world with almost everything we need: bodies, families, breathe and love. Our early caregivers gave us the other things we needed: food, shelter and water. Somehow, around the age of 3 we started wanting other things. It started out simply, like wanting a treat at the store, or a dress so we could look like a “princess.” By the time we got out on our own somehow that need for a few things morphed into an incessant and urgent need to have all kinds of things.
We have decided we need fancy things to eat, things to make us skinny if we eat too much, things to entertain us, stuff to help us calm down if we get too stressed, stuff to read, stuff to wear, stuff to keep us warm, stuff to keep us cold, stuff to learn, stuff to sleep on, stuff to keep our stuff in and (my favorite) stuff that we keep around just so we feel like we have enough stuff. This list could go on forever.
There is nothing wrong with having a beautiful home, and things you love. I think we’ve just gone a bit overboard. It’s time to stop and think about it instead of just continuing this inane pursuit of acquiring. The antidote to acquiring is to develop a sense that you have “enough.”
William Shakespeare said is another way. He called it being content, “Being poor and content is rich, and rich enough.”
As I look around my home at all the things that are left after having two estate sales I see all that has been deemed worthless by those who came through my home. There are hundreds, if not thousands of dollars worth of things still here. I spent the years of my life working to acquire these things, and in the end, they are worthless to me and everyone else. I’m not sad about this, but I do consider how my time and money may have been otherwise employed.
Time spent working and acquiring stuff could have been spent:
Serving my friends, family and neighbors
Staying physically fit
Finishing my degree years ago
Playing with my babies
Supporting my husband in his pursuits
Visiting with people I love
With so many reasons to stop earning, buying and consuming, why do we still do it?
Economists, historians and legislatures in the U.S. are quit clear about the answer to that question; If Americans stop spending and consuming our whole country stops functioning. So buy baby buy! That is the creed of America.
This interesting quote comes from the Richard Robbins of the Economics Department at the University of British Columbia.
“The production, processing, and consumption, of commodities requires the extraction and use of natural resources (wood, ore, fossil fuels, and water); it requires the creation of factories and factory complexes whose operation creates toxic byproducts, while the use of commodities themselves (e.g. automobiles) creates pollutants and waste. Yet of the three factors environmentalists often point to as responsible for environmental pollution — population, technology, and consumption — consumption seems to get the least attention. One reason, no doubt, is that it may be the most difficult to change; our consumption patterns are so much a part of our lives that to change them would require a massive cultural overhaul, not to mention severe economic dislocation. A drop in demand for products, as economists note, brings on economic recession or even depression, along with massive unemployment.”
We are seeing this happen before our very eyes. It’s scary. When we stop buying things people lose their jobs. Maybe you have been experiencing unemployment or under employment in your family? You are not alone. The unemployment rate in the U.S. is now 10.7%. But buying more is not the answer. Law makers, companies and advertisers will all do their best to convince you that you should be spending more money on things.
When you find yourself thinking that you need more stuff for one reason or another, first ask yourself: why do I really want this? Chances are you are trying to fill a void. I have been in this position many times. I’ve gone shopping to find a new outfit or a book or a DVD because I had a bad day at work, or I was stressed, or I was bored. I was trying to fill a void. We do it all the time.
In our estate sales we had over 200 CD’s, books, and DVD’s. We ended up giving most of them away. They collected dust in our house for years before we came to this point. I’m guessing most of you can relate.
People keep asking me, “Isn’t it hard to let people come into your house and take away all of your things for pennies on the dollar?” No, it isn’t hard. I feel more free and more happy as each person walks out with their new treasures. These things are not important to me anymore. I am undergoing a, “massive cultural overhaul.” I crave clear spaces and a clear mind.
In his recent best-selling book, “It’s All Just Too Much,” Peter Walsh a famous clutter-busting pro wrote, “Your home is where you live, breathe, rest, love, eat, and create and there should be ample space and room to serve those needs.” He goes on to suggest that clutter gets in the way of living the life we are meant to live.
I think Peter Walsh is on to something. I am ready to discover what the “life I am meant to live” looks like. Apparently it’s in Japan in a 500 square foot apartment. I’ll let you know what I find.