Stuff


We have too much stuff, and it bugs me.

Stuff is just stuff. Some of it is meaningful. Some of it is useful. And some of it is neither.

One thing is certain. Stuff occupies every nook and cranny of our lives. I swear it grows in dusty corners and dark closets, kind of like fungus. It takes on a life of its own and can even crowd the car out of our garage.

In fact, minimalists say that stuff just stands in the way of our freedom and even our happiness. We spend too much time, money and energy paying for, accumulating, maintaining, storing and cleaning stuff.

And I have the proof.

After a call from one of the charities who regularly ask me to donate "gently used household items" to their regular pick-up campaign, I stuck my head in a few closets and was astonished at what I store but don't actually use.

Take, for instance, the coonskin cap I bought for my son on a trip to B.C.. It's been in the closet since 1989. Lodged in behind the dress that one of my bridesmaids wore at my wedding in 1976 was a red feather boa I bought in New Orleans in 2005. I have a mohair blanket that my parents gave me in 1971 when I graduated from high school, and right beside that I have two quilts I made my kids when THEY graduated from high school around the turn of the century.

I always figure that I should keep stuff because of its sentimental value. Somehow that argument falls flat when I realize some of my sentimental stuff is in a box that hasn't been opened since the last ice age.  Even the sentiment that makes me hang on to it is dusty.

So I bite the bullet and decide to get rid of some things. Ahhh, that's the ticket! A nice clean space with no useless stuff. Somehow, though, within days I regret taking action. It must be some kind of a "Murphy's Law" that the day after you throw out stuff you hadn't used in years, you suddenly have a use for that item again.

My son introduced me to one of many websites detailing a lifestyle trend wherein people live in "tiny houses" -- no more than 800 square feet, but fully functional and stuff-free. The idea is to live a simpler life in order to focus on what is most important to us, and waste less time on stuff that is not.

In Oprah's world, this was called my "aha moment".

If I get rid of some of our stuff, not only will I moan less about all the junk we have, but I'll have solved a problem my daughter identified when she was last home. Looking around the house, she asked, "What am I going to do with all this stuff when you two aren't around?" to which I replied, "Ask your brother to put it on Kijiji."

So here's the rub. Can I screw up some courage and get rid of things that bring back a fond memory? Ummmm .... I can't commit.

I think I still need my stuff.