Monday, August 18, 2014

Are You In Love With Your Stuff?

As I continue the decluttering in my house, I'm amazed at just how much I have.  I don't try to accumulate stuff and I don't try to hoard anything, but somehow it just manages to build up in the house.  I swear the stuff breeds and multiplies! 

I would not say I'm in love with my stuff, but many may not be able to answer the same way.  So, what about you?  Are you in love with your stuff?

When I was a little kid, I remember my parents telling me how I reacted to a sermon we heard in church.  As the story goes, the minister was preaching about "throwing the garbage out the window" and he was referring to the garbage of your life.  Of course, I guess I came home and went around the house that day screaming "Throw The Garbage Out The Window".  It sounds cute, but in many ways, it was true.  Even though we didn't have much, it always seemed like we had too much stuff that wasn't worth a cent.

Today I saw a video that is an oldie but a goodie and has floated around the social media space for some time.  It is about "The Empty Pickle Jar"  If you haven't seen this video, take a moment and watch it because it depicts a very balanced way of looking at everything n our life.

When I think of stuff and how much everyone has, I only need to look at other homes in the town we live in.  At most homes, the car is sitting outside the garage and if you happen to go by the garage when the door is open, you will quickly see why.  There is so much stuff in the garage, that it begs the question, "are you in love with your stuff?"

When I watch the various reality shows on TV or see the issues of junk collection in community news around me, I'm thinking that people are really in love with their stuff.  I understand that "stuff" becomes an emotional replacement for trauma or issues or loss in someone's life and I realize it isn't that simplistic either.  It is a complex issue.

Did you know that in 1996 only 1 in 17 households had leased storage units but today that number is 1 in 10 according to  The storage industry is a $22 Billion industry.  We could say that it is a result of homes not being large enough, but I'm betting that if I went and found the square footage numbers of homes now and in the past, they most likely would have increased from years ago.  According to, the US Census Bureau said that in 1970 the average home was 1400 square feet with 3.14 people living in it.  The average home in 2004 was 2330 square feet with only 2.60 people living in it.

So we can't make the argument that we don't have large enough homes to store everything.  We can't make the argument that we have more people living in these larger homes.  It just doesn't make logical sense to suggest.

If we begin to look at how much is spent in retail every year, I don't think any of us would object to the conclusion that it has drastically increased with time.  I'm sure the retail spending numbers could be found on a google search. We are purchasing more and more stuff, lending credibility to the concept of people being in love with their stuff.  Christmas time is when people go out and buy so much stuff to give as gifts because that is what we do in our society.

I'm always amazed when I go in thrift stores with a friend looking for collectible items, just how much stuff from Christmas and holidays are sitting in these thrift stores.  The shelves are full of these items and you seem the same thing over and over from one town or state to another.

If you take yard sales and antique markets and freecycle places and thrift stores, there is more stuff to get rid of than people know what to do with in their life.  It is never ending and to be honest, it is choking this universe from an environmental standpoint all the way to just how we humans view what matters in our lives.

The one thing I've begun to notice is that the stuff we buy does not hold up as long as it once did.  It is almost made so that you have to replace it soon.  We have the ingenuity to make stuff last, but that doesn't make the shareholders more money, so we tend to skimp on those things.  I wish stuff lasted longer.  I get tired of replacing things because something broke long before it should have and I do take care of my stuff that I buy.

I think buying stuff is one of the "drugs" of our modern day society.  I know this isn't popular to say and I know that our economy thrives on all of us buying stuff.  However, when is enough going to be enough?  When are we going to say that this makes no sense or when will the raw materials get depleted in our world?  When will we acknowledge that all of this stuff ends up in a landfill that hardly anyone sees, polluting our water and air and landscapes plus who knows what else.

Our stuff gives us an emotional attachment I believe to help us numb out what is truly going on in our life.  It gives us a high that we can feel if nothing more than for a moment.  It gives us a connection to something that is tangible but in the end has very little meaning.

Are we in love with our stuff?  I would say, you bet we are!  The evidence is clear if you want to see it.  I believe its time to begin getting back to what matters in life, because at the end of your days, you can't take it with you.  I'm referring to what matters as who you are deep inside and how you either add to or subtract from the world in your day and your thoughts.  I'm talking about how much you grow and get to know yourself, rather than finding countless unconscious ways of numbing yourself.

The choice is really up to each one of us in what we do.  I can't sit here and make anyone do anything, but I try to present the facts as they appear to me.  I'm sure there is more to this issue than the points I have raised, but at the basic root of the issue is numbing.  The more you numb, the less you know who you are and this applies even if you are doing it unconsciously.  When we wake up to our life and all that it offers, we will truly find a world that is much more than we can begin to understand.

Blog Post And Images (c) 8/2/14 by Don Shetterly

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