Drowning in Stuff…

I still feel like I have too much stuff.

For the past couple of months I’ve been finding stuff at every turn to shed… But I still feel like there’s too much here! Faced with once again moving across the country, I just want to get rid of everything! But I know that’s not a wise idea. It’s not like I have an unlimited income to be able to replace my possessions when I get back to the Midwest. But this is the first cross-country move that I’ll be doing without a big truck hauling my stuff on my behalf. It’ll be me, the dog and a U-Haul heading east in January. I’ve thought about getting a mover again… but I just don’t want to spend the money. I need to be super careful with what I have because I don’t know when the next paycheck will be coming my way. It would cost me AT LEAST twice, if not three times as much to do it that way. So I’m going the DIY route and renting a truck.

There’s an interesting book called “Material World: A Global Family Portrait” where photographers visited families around the world and took pictures of them outside their homes with all of their possessions. I’m sure you can imagine the difference between a family living in rural India or Africa versus a typical suburban American family. If you’re unfamiliar with this tome of materialism, NOVA (on PBS) did an expose on some of the families.

The most interesting thing about observing the items that families from other countries have is noticing that for the most part they’re all completely utilitarian things. Bowls, blankets, food, modest furniture…  Although, there are a couple TVs in there. And when looking at the location and the family, seems incredible peculiar to me. I don’t know why – and I’m not passing judgment – I just find it interesting that a family living in the middle of nowhere has a television set. Heck, I don’t even have one of those!!!

I’m glad I’m going through this initial cull of possessions now. I know even more will go when I start putting items into boxes in a few weeks. I swear, some of this stuff I just don’t even see until I eventually lay my hands on it. And I think that’s a problem indicative of our typical American society. We use possessions to try to fill the emptiness in our lives. But it never works. And then we end up with piles of useless stuff that seemingly becomes invisible.

Now, to be fair (to myself, anyhow) I certainly don’t have the amount of “stuff” that most typical American families have – but to me, it’s still way too much. The fact that I can find items – almost every day – to get rid of without batting an eye is enough to really bring me to attention. After reading Tammy Strobel’s book (I mentioned it a few posts back), I can’t imagine shedding enough stuff to fit into a 128 square foot house – with another person and a cat, no less! But they did take time to get to that point. This is just my first baby step toward a new life.

This morning it dawned on me that in addition to all the silverware in my kitchen drawer, I had two additional full sets in the house. My mother’s fine silver, and a second set of silver that’s of a lesser quality. This is just one example of the out-of-control materialism that’s striking me dumb right now. Three sets of silverware?  Three???  I live alone for Pete’s sake! And don’t do enough entertaining to justify three full sets of silverware! So I got rid of all the silverware in my kitchen drawer (I’m donating it to my office since we never seem to have silverware come lunchtime), pulled out the lesser set from the china cabinet and will be using that for my every day flatware. I’ve kept the good silver for special occasions – whatever those might be.

So onward I go, continuing to purge possessions at every turn. We’ll see where this gets me come the end of the year when I have to think about loading all this stuff into a truck. Perhaps I should take my own picture, inspired by the book, to see where I fit in with the world’s materialism.

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