Monday, January 11, 2010

Of Collecting Stuff and Purging of Same Stuff

HHBL and I are in the midst of planning for a downsizing. The progeny are out of the house now. Well, they do come back despite our attempts to seal the house against intruders. I have no idea how they are getting in.

Hmmmm? Oh yes, downsizing and collections and things like that.

I have a lot of things. I am not surprised at this, I have known it for quite some time now. It is apparent when I open the dish cupboard or go to the basement or even in my office. I have stuff. Before we continue with the rest of what I want to talk about I think it is necessary for all of us to watch George Carlin talk about stuff. He is right on the money in his usual way.

I have a lot of stuff. I don’t want a lot of stuff. So I am getting rid of stuff. And I may give some of it to you guys if you want it. Don’t get nervous now. I found a couple of things that are just darn cute and I don’t want to just give it to AmVets, much as I like those guys.

I could tell you about all the things that we are cleaning out, it would definitely be an interesting post. And it may show up here pretty soon. But what struck me as I was going through boxes of stuff that haven’t seen the light of day for at least 5 years is the reason for this particular stuff. I was going through a number of boxes that held groups of things that I have collected over the years. And I wondered at that moment why I had collected them. Why I had spent money on them and squirreled them away and kept them. I look at them now and what I see is something that needs to be gotten rid of. I don’t want them and more to the point….I don’t NEED them.

I don’t need them because I don’t need that stuff to define who and what I am. That is the crux of the matter.

First off I should say, as a matter of disclaimer, that when I say I have “collections and stuff” I don’t mean that you will be seeing me on the next episode of “Hoarders.” Rest assured, or be disappointed. In actuality, I am a very organized person, and I don’t have a ton of clutter around. Every surface of every piece of furniture isn’t covered with chachki although at one time in our lives they were. But not now thank goodness. But because it was true at one time that means that there were boxes and boxes of stuff in the basement. I have a feeling that while I wasn’t looking that stuff has been multiplying. Has there been a giant collection PARTEEEE! going on in the basement that I didn’t see? Complete with chachki wine coolers and nic nac hookups? Could be. 

Why does the average person collect stuff? More to the point why did I collect stuff. When you are a kid you collect things because you like them. That is the reason pure and simple. They bring you pure and simple pleasure and you use what you collect. But sometime down the road of life, when you are an “adult”, you collect for other reasons I think. I can only speak for myself on this but I can see now why I collected things as an adult. My most intense years of collecting were also the years that I was most intensely insecure in myself. My collections didn’t just bring me pleasure they defined me. I collected bears. But I couldn’t just have enough bears to put out a small collection. No I needed A LOT of bears of all shapes and sizes and mediums. Or baskets. I mean really, how many baskets does one person need. Baskets are great and often functional but they take up a ton of space and really, you don’t need 40 of them when 10 in varying sizes will do.

At some point in time when you are collecting stuff, when you are continuing to bring things into your home and the inflow is more than the outflow, that stuff becomes a burden. It is there weighing you down. It must be moved or dusted or rearranged. It resides in a box or in a cupboard and frankly you forget that it is there. It stops serving the purpose for which you purchased it, if it every really had a purpose. And so why keep it is my thought. Of course that doesn’t count for family heirloom kinds of things but that particular category doesn’t cover too many things.

And so, I have a big pile of things that are going to AmVets. And my car is full of things to go to AmVets. And there are several pieces of furniture that are ready for donation……

I feel better and freer already.


  1. George Carlin didn't even touch on the subject of what happens when one's person stuff becomes another person's stuff, such as at garage sales.

    There must be a name for people like me who have the uncontrollable urge to snatch up someone else's stuff! That's probably why I don't go to garage sales any more.

  2. When you are done, come to my house and get to work on my basement. My husband, who grew up with Castro, will not let me throw ANYTHING away.

    I think I figured out what HHBL's an Elvis reference, no?


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