Monday, July 20, 2009

the neverending story

On B's blog, I post with increased frequency bemoaning my accumulation of stuff.

The truth is that at times, my stuff fairly overwhelms. When one has spent a lifetime in the hunting/gathering of cute things, fun things, sentimental things, both necessary and extraneous non-essential but delightful things - it adds up. Big time.

When one is short of storage space, those items that once served to please, accessorize and embellish a humdrum existence quickly morph into excess baggage that can bog down one's lifestyle.

Too much stuff! is the bane of my existence. It is also my mantra. My rallying cry.

The urge to purge is constant, a chronic condition. Though fond memories can be readily recalled of how good it buoyed the senses to acquire this or that, it feels equally, if not better, to let go of what has amounted to a ridiculous number of belongings**.

Fact: the powers that be in the advertising world are largely to blame for convincing us to get more stuff. Advertising drives and defines our consumer existence. Every ad that convinces us to consume MORE MORE MORE is a well-thought out bit of propaganda. Each is a brilliant example of brainwashing: you want it. Need it. Gotta to have it. Show it off. Validation of self through the acquisition of stuff appeals to a basic human need: to feel significant. It isn't wrong - some of us just take it too darn far.

Therein lies the irony: To have, to hold, to feel good for a moment, to become overwhelmed with, to fret over, to get rid of. To replace. The cycle really is endless - that is, until the end of funds or life..

Day by day, as I am faced with caring for my stuff, I pause to take stock. I have every intention of cutting back and simplifying. But how? Perhaps it is more important to ponder the question of 'why'.

Understanding WHY I/we (note: this is where I involve you, dear reader) need more stuff is a big step towards achieving, if not the ideal of Simper Living, at least a reasonable goal of Less Stuff is More. Such a learning process, this.

Taking baby steps, we move slowly. Distractions, numerous falls and even going backwards is part and parcel of the process. Yet one step at a time, we edge towards our purpose.

WHY requires taking pause each time before considering something else to add to our stuff. It behooves us to ask ourselves whether this or that new thing fills some void, improves our lot in life or makes us more at one with the universe. Will our friends enjoy us even more because we've got more stuff? (Some will, but those are friends we might also consider purging.)

WHY is a valid question. We should ask it now and again.

I am proud to make the statement that I am not the shopper I once was.
Hallelujah for that.

Purchases and acquisitions of late tend to be only what is needed to extend and enrich my current hobbies/interests (I must confess to having far too many hobbies) or to replace something in the house that is oft-used and now worn out. Case in point: my vacuum cleaner. The one I have is a cheapo which now sports a duct-taped electrical cord. The vacuum spits out more dirt than it sucks in. Moreover and much more alarmingly, there is a distinct smell of burning rubber that emanates from the machine when it's been on for more than 5 minutes.
I asked WHY and the answer is 'The damn thing is broken. Get rid of it and buy a new one.' Not the most philosophical of WHY questions, but practical is applicable as well.

It's recently occurred to me that I possess an organizational skill that has proved somewhat counterproductive to effective purging. It is the ability to tidy, stash and stack to the point that a lot of stuff looks like not-as-much-as-all-that. This has to be kept in check in order to achieve the state of simplicity which still eludes me.

Accumulation of stuff: links like this and this are terrific reality-checks.

** Collections of pretty dishes, yarn stash, paper-crating supplies and a plethora of cooking utensils are not to be considered excessive. Ahem.


Lauren said...

I think most people (Americans) have lots more stuff/clutter than you do! Even the things in your garage and closets are organized, boxed and labeled. You should feel proud of your purging skills!

baffle said...

Lauren ~ I always think of YOU when I do the merge-purge, for you are soooooo good at it. I have observed that you purged excess stuff by necessity at first, now by choice.

You are accurate in suggesting that
Americans seem to have more stuff than they could ever use or need in a lifetime. We even own multiples of the same thing! For some, storage is not a problem. I should be happy to have little storage space, yeah? Or my 'keeping too much atuff' issue would be that much worse.

baffle said...

I hate typoss: Stuff, not atuff. New keyboard, y'see...

baffle said...

dang. there it goes again.