“That’s all your house is: a place to keep your stuff. If you didn’t have so much stuff,
you wouldn’t need a house. You could just walk around all the time.”
~ George Carlin
I’ve never been one to keep stuff. I was raised by a couple of minimalists who came out of the Great Depression (as opposed to the Mediocre or Meh-Not-So-Great Depression). They realized that owning possessions can be a fleeting thing and it can all vaporize with just the bad intentions of a couple of greedy bankers.
Now, don’t get me wrong. This aversion to owning a bunch of stuff is not rooted in any sort of noble goal to make the world a better place. Nor is it coming from some philosophical belief or my life-long study of Immanuel Kant.
(That’s right, bitches, I got me some Wikipedia!)
I’ve always had a bit of an obsession with being able to put everything I own in the back of a car and take off at a moment’s notice as if I lived the life of some seedy criminal, needing to steal away from a broken down motel under cover of night.
Ultimately, it’s always just been a sign of freedom and independence for me to travel light and not get too attached to things.
My tidy little bubble burst when I got married. Of course, even if you marry someone who has the same minimalist mindset, you still end up with twice as much shit.
It’s pretty hard to avoid unless you are marrying a Buddhist monk. And I wouldn’t recommend that. They are super hard to buy for at Christmas.
I, on the other hand, did not marry a minimalist. To his credit, he is one now (probably because I threw out all his stuff while he was sleeping). But, at the start, not so much.
When we first moved together to a new house, I watched in horror as we filled up both our cars plus a fair sized U-Haul.
Here’s a sampling of a typical conversation that day.
“Why are we keeping all these random pieces of wood?”
“Because it’s perfectly good wood.”
“But what do you plan to do with it?”
“I was going to make a book case out of it….or something.”
“We already have a book case. And, you don’t know how to build stuff.”
“But, what if in 30 years I decide that I want to learn carpentry or whatever and I find that it’s a huge talent I never even knew I possessed? I’ll need wood for all the awesome furniture I’ll build in my new career.”
“Have we packed the vodka yet?”
Thanks to a healthy combination of booze and compromise, I pushed through the crisis and no one was harmed.
I still have an overwhelming urge to purge. I lose sight of myself if I’m sitting in clutter and start to feel oddly invisible.
I’ve started to realize that I’m allowing my discomfort with clutter to define how I feel about myself. And, at the end of the day, is that really any different than someone who is happiest surrounded by a lot of stuff?
Tomato/tamahto – we have the same affliction at the end of the day. It’s internal definition by outward elements.
I shouldn’t be defined, or define myself, by my possessions or my lack of possessions. Both are false representations of who I really am.
My fear of being weighed down by material items must be some indication that I have issues with commitment, right?
Maybe I have some weird sort of ADD and get distracted way too easily by objects in general.
Or, perhaps it all boils down to some psycho-sexual Oedipal complex. Can women even have an Oedipal complex?
How the hell should I know? I’m not a therapist. I barely even own a couch!
I do suspect, whatever the core reason is behind it, that any reaction that is not within a moderate spectrum warrants closer examination. Getting too much pleasure from buying stuff or feeling too much joy in getting rid of it, is indicative of something else.
Hoarder, minimalist or monk. I guess the bottom line is to be sure it’s a choice and not a band-aid.
“I flipped through catalogs and wondered:
What kind of dining set defines me as a person?”
~ Chuck Palahniuk – Fight Club
Image #1 - http://static.guim.co.uk/sys-images/Film/Pix/pictures/2011/1/11/
Image #2 - http://www.khmer440.com/chat_forum/viewtopic.php?f=1&t=16852