All Our Stuff…
All of us know how to get rid of stuff. You fill up your trash bin and then you take it outside for the city to pick up. Maybe once or twice a year you do a “spring cleaning” sort of thing and all unworn clothes go to some thrift store. Getting rid of everything, however, is a totally different thought process.
I decided that I would use this weekend to start really clearing things out. And it’s gotten me thinking a lot about all the stuff we accumulate. A few years ago, what was top in my mind was decorating our apartment – arranging the furniture just so and putting new artwork on the walls. I was in a “feathering my nest” sort of mood, reading lots of decorating blogs and going to Ikea and putting my energy into having just the right sort of space at home. So, I feel like I can’t really come out and say that owning things is bad – it’s a lot more grey area than that.
What I will say, though, is that when you get to that place of wanting to let go of the responsibilities of maintaining all your stuff, you really start to look at everything very differently. We have stuff that one of us has intentionally purchased. We have stuff that people have given us because they thought we would like it. We have stuff that people have given us because they wanted it out of their own homes and figured we were a young couple “starting out.” We have stuff that we don’t like in its current state, but believe that we’ll do something with it at a later point.
We have stuff that doesn’t have it’s own home in our home, so it hangs out on the table tops or floor or the hallway – or the second bathroom that has become a storage closet because we didn’t know what to do with all the extra stuff and we could live with only one bathroom. This is kind of stuff that really bugs me, because it’s the kind of stuff that I have to put energy into shuffling around, stepping over, digging through. It’s funny how you can set stuff aside like this and then stop noticing it’s there until you really look hard at all of the things you’re surrounded by and decide to start clearing it all out.
So, today I am intentionally looking hard at everything that’s on the shelves or in the cupboards or on the floor. I’m finding it interesting what I feel attached to and for what reasons – and I have a hunch that getting rid of stuff will be a very long process that will entail numerous “sweeps.” My goal is whittle everything down to roughly two or three boxes that I can store – which means I have to be brutal about what’s really important to me. Thankfully, I also went through a period of interest in the notion of Voluntary Simplicity, so I can look to those ideas in helping me decide what’s truly worth keeping. And, as ironic as it might seem, I have several books on this very subject that I can fall back on if needed.
Even more ironically, I can’t include any photos on this post, because I can’t seem to find the cable to connect my camera to my computer – it’s apparently buried somewhere under all our stuff.
Ron April 25, 2009 at 6:41 pm
I always found that getting rid of things was actually quite easy. The only things that really ever mattered to me were and are memories. And these tend to take the form of photographs and a few, treasured personal things (no more than would fit in a Banker’s Box). Having less stuff makes you free. I recall being able to cram all of my worldly possessions into a Honda Civic hatchback. That was everything I needed when, in college, I traveled to far flung areas of the country on some internship rotations. Of course, things have expanded since we moved into our own home. But, I still have that “use it or move it” attitude that sometimes drives my dear wife nuts.
I’m looking forward to reading more about your coming adventure.
Guy April 28, 2009 at 2:32 pm
I really miss the days where everything did fit in the back of a car. But life continues.
Marcey August 24, 2009 at 4:08 pm
I do miss being able to move in two car loads, which included some furniture. My books have grown again. My stuff feels like a burden most of the time, so I try to ignore it.
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getting rid of things is extremely difficult, i know. i thought i’d be able to keep possessions to a minimum after moving to long beach because my space is so limited. but, the things, they accumulate..
i need to find the will power to be more spartan with my living space.