Thursday, April 26, 2012

It's Just "Stuff"

It seems as though we spend half our lives trying to amass "stuff". Then, it takes almost as many of our older years to rid ourselves of these same items. If we don't downsize early enough, it becomes overwhelming. If we don't bother at all, the daunting task of cleaning up after us is a burden that is eventually left to family members.

By "stuff" I'm referring of course to all those inanimate treasures we thought we had to have...those valuable knick knacks, the once trendy silverware and dish sets, the vcr and dvd movies, the mountains of books, the travel souvenirs, the obsolete electronic devices and random power cords, the world's largest ball of twine, the foil pie plate and plastic container collection. You get my drift. Besides all that, in recent years, the draw of the dollar store has been powerful. It's amazing all the bargains that we didn't know we needed but sometimes purchase just because we can't believe the price. If we were to be honest with ourselves, we would realize that there are very few items in our possession which we can't live without. The larger the house, the greater the area of the property, the more "things" we seem to "need" and amass.

Statistics show that most people only use twenty percent of what they have. The other eighty percent of possessions are taking up space. Fengshui philosophy is helpful and clear, "if you don't use it or love it, get rid of it." The problem with having too much "stuff" is that it creates chaos in our lives. It drains us of energy. We often waste time looking for things we need, or we spend money replacing things we already have and can't find. So instead of taking care of and respecting what we have, we value and appreciate nothing.

The argument that "it's a keepsake" or "I'm saving it for my kids", often doesn't fly. Rather, it's an excuse for us to hold on to things. In fact, our children rarely want any of our outdated furnishings, household items or clutter. My own have made it clear to me what they'd like. It isn't much...a piece of art, a musical instrument, a tree ornament. To this short list I have added a small sculpure from a great aunt, coin sets from the years of their birth and some jewelry from each of their grandmas. Nothing large, nothing meaningless and hopefully nothing that will be a burden. In addition, I will dispose of mountains of photos and slides to create a simple album with a family history for each of them. I will not put anything on an electronic device which may become oudated, get lost, tossed out or never be viewed.

Some people find it difficult to give things away where there's an emotional attachment or when there are strong personal memories. We have to detach ourselves when we look at the objects. And that's just what they are...objects.

We've all heard the saying "take a picture, it lasts longer". Perhaps that's true. I have in fact done this in the past. I've taken a photo of something which had particular meaning for me prior to disposing of it. Interestingly enough, I've never had the need to look at any of those pictures.

Downsizing, trash and recycling companies are becoming big businesses as they help relieve us of our "stuff",  and of course, our money. It costs to accumulate the "stuff" then it costs to get rid of it.

How do we figure out what we really need and love and what we can in fact live without? Here's a start. We've all heard variations of the question "If you were taken to an island (I prefer a desert island), and could only have 10 personal possessions, what would they be?" I doubt that many of us would select a Death Valley snow globe, a yogurt and pasta maker or a pair of Christian Louboutin shoes.

So, now, I leave you with the question. "If you were sent to a desert island and could only take along 10 personal possessions, what would they be?"

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