Moving house is a good time to review ones ‘stuff’. It’s then, in the frenzy of packing boxes and lifting furniture that you assess your horde of stuff. We tend to put so much value in our stuff, even when said stuff doesn’t actually do anything useful. I used to collect a lot of trinkety things, old things that had stories and history. I still like them, but these days I tend to hold myself back from buying them or accepting them as gifts, especially if their sole purpose is for me to just look at. Now after moving a few months ago I have less stuff. I like that about moving. It’s my time to discard stuff and remind myself of what I can actually live with out. It’s also a time when I feel guilt for having stuff. These days however I put more value in stuff that serves a practical service. I ask myself, will this slice my veg? Will this help me catch my food? Will this keep me warm? I was asked why I like a particular product recently, and my reply was that I was fond of quality, things of practicality and longevity.
I’ve tired of fashionable things. They come and then disappear only to be discarded and denied ownership as soon as they’re out of favour. Seeing this clearly comes with age, experience and observation. If you’re my age you’ll remember the electronic dance music of the early 90’s…a horrid time for music. But at the time I remember so many people in love with that cheap disposable trash. Ten years later those CD’s are gone, the music just an embarrassing memory for those that worshipped its souless beat. Stuff that’s popular will be desired for a moment in time, then as time passes, that stuff is shed out of our lives or it’s stored in the hope that it will one day be in favour again. Years later we find it when we move house.
The sad part about it is that the first world is full of people obsessed with acquiring more stuff, working in jobs just to buy more stuff, ‘better branded stuff’. ‘Better brand’….now there’s a perceived value paradox. Well thought out marketed brands, with products that get into your brain and convince you of their ‘value’. When I see people wearing a t-shirt they’ve paid over $100 purely for the brand name printed on it, I feel a mixture of anger and sorrow. How could someone be so stupid to believe in such a shallow transparent thing? That is our society’s downfall, our obsession with stuff. And most of this stuff it utterly useless and won’t actually improve our lives, except for that shallow improvement we place faith into that’s all in our minds.
Take a moment to think about being stranded out in the bush, alone. What stuff would keep you alive? What stuff would make you a shelter and protect you from the elements? What stuff will keep you warm, help you catch food, help you grow food.
Will your impractical footwear come in handy? Will your TV take care of you? Will your expensive tee shirt keep you warm when the sun goes down? Will you survive without your electronic tooth brush and facial moisturiser?
Do you really NEED that tablet computer? Do you really NEED to upgrade your car? Do you really NEED an extra handbag? Or is it more of a WANT?
When you’re on you death bed, will you look at your live and measure your success by the stuff you acquired during a lifetime?
Stuff. It’s killing us. Wanting stuff is killing us. Should we focus on stuff we need a little more? Have we reached the point of no return? Have we out run our shadows? Have we become robotic in our lives? Are we just part of an all consuming system hell bent on stuff?
I remember in Cubs/Boy Scouts being taught the three basics that we need to survive; food, water, shelter. Somewhere along the way we’ve decided that there is more, and life will be improved with stuff, the fourth element of human survival.
Sure I like stuff. These are my favorite types of stuff. Stuff that does things/tasks. Stuff that lasts. Stuff that’s made by real people. Stuff that keeps me alive. Stuff that keeps me warm. Stuff that serves a practical purpose. Stuff that feeds me. Stuff that keeps my garden going. Stuff I use to hunt. Stuff I use to cook with.