Saturday, January 30, 2010

The Thing about Things


So, I've been told by my "fans" that they miss me...specifically J and Rob and Kim! Sorry to keep you all waiting over a month for a post. Other than Christmas, I guess I've just been a bit uninspired. But, hopefully that will change once I get the juices flowing! That being said, this first post back promises to be a bit introspective.

I have been thinking a lot lately about "stuff." I've been doing a lot of sorting and cleaning...nothing new there. It just amazes me how much STUFF one can accumulate. This month, I cleaned out something for everything I got for Christmas, as well as additional things. I took a bag of coats and shoes to Green Door, 2 bags with clothes and household items to Goodwill, a bag of towels to the Humane Society, and a bag of books to the library. I also threw away quite a bit of stuff--paper and things worn beyond usefulness--and gave several things to Freecyclers. And what's sad is that I could still get rid of more stuff. AND, I had already donated bags of things in December. Seriously, even if you aren't a major accumulator or pack rat, without discipline, the stuff can take over.

This got me thinking about how much time the getting, managing, organizing, and cleaning out of things takes. Which is why if something is not presently bringing you joy or being useful in some way, it should not be in your life.  I can't tell you how many times I've examined and reevaluated whether or not to keep something. Over and over...the time that takes, when in the end, it's all going to the same place.

My friend Erin and I have been going to estate sales lately, and it's really eye opening, to see piles of old greeting cards, gift wrap, knicknacks, books...they really are JUST THINGS. We imbue things with memories and meaning, but in the end, they don't matter.  (That stapler up there is my sole estate sale purchase--2 buckaroos).

I like watching the A&E show Hoarders, because I find the compulsion to hoard fascinating. What many of these people share is an inability to differentiate between things, between what's useful, what's important, and what's just trash. We all have that to some degree. The little game I like to play with myself from time to time is think "If I was a refugee or if I was fleeing from a natural disaster and could only take one small box or suitcase of things, what would I take?"

For me, I immediately think: family photos, several pieces of jewelry, my diplomas, my birth certificate, passport, other documents...beyond that, it gets squishier. But I certainly wouldn't be hauling around DVDs and craft supplies, and plastic doo dads.

Obviously, there are things we use in daily life that can hang around, but it does help to think "how much does this add to my life" and "how important is it REALLY?'