Monday, October 1, 2012

Your Stuff

When I was 21, I bought a condo. I had been renting it from my grandma and she sold it to me for crazy cheap. It was a dream come true. I loved the area I lived in, and my place had plenty of space and covered parking. The best part of all was that the people who owned the condo above me were never there. They lived in a different state most of the time and only came to live above me a few weeks out of the year. I was officially living the dream. Slowly but surely, I began to acquire all the things that a grown up acquires. I had a nice couch, a fancy bed, a gorgeous armoire and all the other things that make your own home feel like a home. Life was good and I felt like I had a great head start on the grown up game.

A friend of mine was living out of state, attending college. She was sharing a classic college apartment with several friends and didn't seem the least bit inclined to begin acquiring grown up stuff. She shared her philosophy about "stuff" with me. This is what she told me, "You don't own your stuff.  Your stuff owns you." I laughed out loud at this. She was probably taking some crazy philosophy courses at the time and her ideas about life seemed so idealistic to me. I'll love her til the day she dies, but she and I shared very different world views and it was comical that we managed to stay such close friends.

Fast forward 12 years and she, just like the rest of us, now has a house and a child and all the junk that comes with it. We are both in the world of excess stuff and now I completely agree with her idealistic philosophy that she shared with me so many years ago. I am not the owner of any of this stuff. All of it owns me. I am a slave to every last bit of it.

Yesterday I spent the majority of my day returning all our stuff back to it's proper place. Most of it was folding laundry and getting back to it's drawer of origin, but so much of that awful busy work was putting toys back in toy bins, fabric back in the sewing area, cups back in the dishwasher, shoes back in their lockers and children's books back on the shelves. It went on all day. I was angry about it. The chaos of my house was disturbing my mood. I was cleaning up with a resentful conversation playing in my head. I wondered again and again how my life turned into this dumb game of my family making messes and me cleaning them up? The answer is that I acquired too much stuff.

I don't want all this stuff. I dread ever having to move with all this crap to pack up. I'm not a hoarder at all. I love the feeling of donating old clothes and forgotten toys. I love recycling papers  and getting the trash out of here. I like less. Problem is, we bought a large house and slowly but surely, it will get filled up with more stuff. My kids have opinions of their own about their things and they aren't so thrilled about my love of the trash can. They both know it won't bother me a bit to get rid of the game with the lost pieces or the trinkets we got with our kids meal.

I know we do use a lot of our things and I do enjoy my fancy mixer and my electronics, but at the same time, I feel overwhelmed by all of it. My mind would feel at ease if I could move without the help of 5 men and a semi-truck. Our life here is not portable at all. It's cumbersome and heavy. My old pal was completely right about our stuff owning us. I think I should mention that I recently told her how right she was. She is currently inundated with all the baby gear and she understands that it's necessary at times to have all this crap, but wouldn't it be nice to feel free of it's burden? And why can't everyone clean up after themselves? That, I suppose, is the underlying point of this rant.

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