When J and I got married we did what most couples do: compare and contrast our possessions (pre-existing and registered-for) with our new living space and try to find space for what we wanted to keep…and then try to find space for everything else too. Now we’re coming up on 4 years of marriage. In that time we’ve learned that we must pick freedom or
shit, sorry “stuff”. We can’t have both. In our home, “stuff” IS a four letter word. Why?
Four years ago, we had an entire extra bedroom filled with, uh…stuff, in addition to the stuff we kept all around our apartment, and stored in Rubbermaid tubs. All of our excess “stuff” was just a by-product of wasted money/sentiment and it was causing us to waste time, space, and energy. Furthermore, because we hadn’t flushed the stuff out, it was sitting around releasing toxins into our life:
- worry and frustration,
- disagreements about where to keep/find or how/when to use it,
- productivity/creativity and peace decreased with cluttered space,
- and even inviting someone to stay the night turned into a stressful “reorganization” to make our “stuff room” more “comfortable”.
Anyway, it didn’t take much for us to feel compelled to “closet cleanse”. When our church collected donations or the youth group was having a garage sale fundraiser, we’d chip away at our pile, and give a little here and there. We were soon in the habit of a quarterly cleanse, taking a full car load of stuff to the Goodwill. It will never cease to amaze me that we did this several times a year for 3 years and STILL HAD A CAR LOAD each time. Where did all that stuff come from?! Were we collecting it as fast as we were giving it away?
This isn’t news, but it bears reiterating:
YOUR STUFF WILL OWN YOU!
Not eventually. Not “if you don’t keep it in check”. Inevitably, it will. Stuff is persistent. If you keep it around, it whispers to you and you start to listen to it.
- “But, I remind you of the good ‘ol days!”
- “You’ll look so hot wearing me when you lose those 10 lbs.”
- “I just might come in handy one day.”
- “You can’t serve punch without a punchbowl!”
- “Grandma died happy knowing you kept us, you know, in case doilies come back into fashion.”
“When we give too much meaning to the stuff we buy, when we think it will bring us happiness or contentment, we are setting ourselves up for failure.” –TheMinimalists.com
J and I have been thinking a lot about our purpose [more on that later]. We know that our purpose is not to simply work for money just so we can buy shit and keep it. There is more to life than being a chronic consumer! But the more crap we’re holding on to, the harder it is to reach for our goals.
This is when it comes down to a choice between freedom or STUFF.
We want to be free to live a life full of powerful experiences and meaningful relationships. We don’t want to be so absorbed in our stuff or acquiring more stuff that it becomes a drain on our finances, or the cause of resentment, or that we hesitate to give generously, or that we can’t pick up and go when opportunity knocks.
Seriously. Think about it. Is your stuff clogging up your qi? Do you need a 3 month “closet cleanse” to reverse your possessional constipation?
In my next post I’ll go over some things J and I have done/are doing to clean up our act.
In the mean time, here are some things to read/watch:
- The Short, 16-Step Guide to Getting Rid of Your Crap.
- How to De-Crapify Your Home
- Letting Go of Sentimental Items
TED Talk: Adam Baker – Sell your crap. [Skip ahead to 8:17 or click here http://youtu.be/9XRPbFIN4lk?t=8m17s]