Who Moved My Stuff?
If you ever want to take stock of all that you’ve worked hard to purchase over time, and how much stuff you think you need to hang on to, go through each and every possession you own and decide what to keep and what to sell, or give away. You might be surprised at how attached you are to your stuff.
I’m, of course, talking about packing up and moving.
Moving requires that you take some serious inventory of your stuff… and of yourself. Because it’s not just about the things, it’s about your attachment to them.
You might find that after the dust settles from garage sales, selling through ads placed in the local papers and, of course, shipping your packages to your soon-to-be-happy eBay customers, parting with your black suede bean bag, your two coffeepots or the lawn gnome collection wasn’t so painful, after all.
Certainly, I’m not saying everyone should travel the road of Life like David Carradine in “Kung Fu”; there’s nothing wrong with keeping things that are unique and special to you, or are irreplaceable. Likewise, there’s nothing wrong with hanging onto some keepsakes and reminders of people, places and good (or bad) times.
But a material detox, like packing for a move, will bring you face-to-face with how much baggage you’ve been building up… and how much hard-earned money you’ve spent on things you thought would “make you happy” at the time, only to find that, now, you might not remember why you had to have it in the first place.
You don’t have to be packing up for a move to do this; just set aside a little time – maybe on the weekends or in the evening – to go through a box or a drawer. Look at what you are holding, and think about it: I have this; do I want it?
Many people are fortunate in that they have the luxury of acquiring a vast amount of things for later scrutiny, as I’m suggesting. Some have only the bare essentials, but harbor a desire more. And still others have very little, yet are perfectly content. While it seems paradoxical that the less-is-more principle could apply to some, but not all, I will stress, again, that the influence of advertising and television shapes values and priorities so that, despite a chasm in interpersonal relationships, the missive is to feel a little closer to complete with each new acquisition.
I’ve read about a flourishing, worldwide group called The Compact that espouses the following ideas:
- To go beyond recycling in trying to counteract the negative global environmental and socioeconomic impacts of disposable consumer culture and to support local businesses, farms, etc. -- a step that, we hope, inherits the revolutionary impulse of the Mayflower Compact.
- To reduce clutter and waste in our homes
- To simplify our lives (as in Calm-pact)
Basically, the members go for months – or even a year – without buying anything besides basic medical or hygienic needs and food (obviously). They barter or find things second-hand on craigslist.org, eBay, garage sales, etc. The concept is simple: buying more stuff is not the road to happiness.
I wanted to mention this group because, after you’ve cleaned house, inside and out, consider this core idea of escaping the tight grip of media influence and material acquisition.
In a sense, it’s like packing up, moving and starting anew.