A house is just a place to keep your stuff
while you go out and get more stuff.
Over at Goodlife Zen they have a guest post about Living with Less and the Art of a Zen Closet. Boy, I wish I could get more Zen in the area of stuff, how much I have and how much I need. We seem to just accumulate things, until, as George Carlin says, a house is just a pile of stuff with a cover over it.
Our house is pretty much full of stuff as it is, and I have two impending moves that will result in a lot more stuff -- moving out of my office when I retire next year, and moving the rest of my things out of my ex's house when he retires and moves too. I'm thinking about the kinds of things I can live without, so that my life doesn't become an even higher mountain of junk:
1. Clothes. Of course. I have the clothes I never wear, the clothes that have never quite fit but I bought them anyway, the underwear that's in tatters but it fits, the underwear that's new but it doesn't fit so I never wear it, the shoes that are too good to get rid of, the purses I'm sure I can sell at a garage sale that never happens . . . on and on. The writer over at Goodlife Zen got herself down to 33 pieces of clothing . . . I wonder if I could do the same?
2. Books. We currently have six bookcases stuffed to the brim, and I have three more full cases at the ex's, and a couple hundred books at my office. I know that there are books that I treasure and could never part with, but what about the books I've read and know I'll never read again? The books I'll never read? The books I'm sure I'll refer to someday, but never do? The books I wish my kids would care about, but they don't? I have a wonderful book that was my dad's when he was a kid, and that I read over and over as a child, but my son never had any interest in it, so what will it mean to him when I'm gone? And do I really need all the books I read for my master's orals 30 years ago???
3. Supplies. Office supplies, school supplies, craft supplies (oh yes and all those unfinished crafts projects). I seem to accumulate those things endlessly -- cute file folders, pencils that look like ballpoint pens, a new color or shape of Post-Its. And now I add art supplies to the list. For some reason, I won't use a pad of paper when it gets down to the last few pages, so I have the tag-ends of all those pads in a drawer. Good grief.
4. Family mementos. My sister and I have a terrible problem. Our mother was a master craftswoman, a professional sewer, a successful artist, our houses are full of stuff that she made, and we seem incapable of ever getting rid of one bit of it. I have clothes she made when I was a teenager, a huge pile of Christmas decorations, crocheted items (from my grandmother, too), things she made for my son when he was a baby, on and on. I have to figure out how to release my deathgrip on all these things. (Something I'll never give up: a little purse size of Shalimar, the perfume my mother wore. It's empty, but still fragrant. Every now and then I open it and just inhale.)
[Not my stuff, fortunately]
5. Photography-related stuff. I have boxes full of prints I've had made but am not going to use, calendars left over from two years ago, cards I made but never sold, a couple of lenses I never, ever use, macro rails I think I've used once, on and on. This is stuff I'll never get rid of, and I can imagine the pile growing and growing.
Well, that's the start of a list, anyway. I really have to think this over. What kinds of stuff do you need to get rid of, and how do you get yourself to do it??