I have a ‘Stuff’ problem. I was told the first step to change is admitting to the problem. So there, I’ve said it.
To start, I like to shop and buy things. Especially expensive electronic things. My special fix is audio components and camera gear. What a great day it is when the delivery truck arrives: opening the box, tearing through the bubble wrap, inhaling the ‘new electronics’ smell. Ahhh, the dopamines…
But I also suffer from the ‘Hold on to it, I may someday need it’ syndrome combined with ‘I’m too busy to sell it’ deceit. The combination of these afflictions has resulted in closets packed like a decaying mausoleum of tech.
Unfortunately, Susan is an enabler. Mostly because she suffers from a ‘Stuff’ problem of her own. In her case, it manifests as ‘Amazing Kitchen Gadget Fever’ and the much more severe ‘Misplaced Sentimentality Disease’. This has resulted in our remaining closets, cabinets, and cupboards to become so overfilled you must shove the doors to close them.
As the late comedian George Carlin liked to say, our homes are just places to keep our Stuff, so all we need to do is buy a bigger house, right?!? (After all, helping folks purchase and sell homes is the family business.)
Why are we so attracted to Stuff?
Browse Amazon.com or turn on HSN, the amount of stuff is mind-blowing. Is there some part of our hunter-gatherer’s brains that drives us to acquire and keep? I know many folks that have overcome this urge and happily live with less, but one look at how much stuff is for sale convinces me they are the exception.
I agree wholeheartedly with the current wisdom that investing in experiences, not material possessions leads to greater happiness and satisfaction. For instance, the last couple of years we invested in vacation travel as our family Christmas gift. But habits are hard to break, and I still find myself in moments of weakness reading up on the latest and greatest camera lens or audiophile amplifier.
I recently re-watched George Carlin’s standup act, and his satire smacked my consumerism and stuff habit in the face. So, my 2020 New Year’s resolution is to roll up my sleeves and liquidate. EBay, Facebook Marketplace, and Goodwill here I come! It won’t be too difficult to purge my closets of Stuff, just time-consuming. But after years of inertia, I feel well motivated to get’r’done.
Susan’s monkey is harder to shake. ‘Misplaced Sentimentality Disease’ (or MSD) confers attachment onto almost any physical object that relates to a loved one. With raising our four kids, inheriting from four sets of grandparents, having parents share their things, plus the trinkets we’ve acquired on our own travels, Susan and I are heavily burdened with kid art, vases, antiques, china, and boxes of old pictures.
The very on-trend Marie Kondo says “Keep only those things that speak to the heart and discard items that no longer spark joy. Thank them for their service – then let them go.”
So easy to say, but not so easy to do. Susan can feel a spark of joy from all this Stuff, plus a big dose of guilt from getting rid of it.
Still, we are determined to reduce our Stuff. Eventually, we may want to move to a smaller house. Besides the obvious lack of space, having clutter is terrible when you try and sell your home. Also, the thought of possibly burdening our children with this task motivates us to deal with it ourselves. After all, they won’t feel much joy from our piles of nostalgic junk, just the guilt of disposing of it.