Stuff

As I noted in my previous post, we are moving to Gig Harbor, Washington. The prerequisites to selling – decluttering and staging – have taken most of our time for the last month. The fly fishing gear has been boxed or put out of sight at least until after the open house and raft of offers (we hope), which is one reason I’ve had nothing to post regarding fly fishing in over one month.

Except for taking time out to see “Star Trek Into Darkness” (fun movie, by the way), life revolves around my day job and decluttering and staging.

The longer we do this the more I know George Carlin was right when he said that a house is a place for keeping your stuff. And as time goes on your stuff is everywhere.

We’ve rented a storage unit for keeping some of our stuff – not the stuff we use every day, but the stuff we want to keep but can live without for some period. This includes winter clothing, snow tires; storage racks that have been removed for staging purposes; bicycles; tools, some of our lesser used kitchen ware, etc., etc.

As we drive through the facility and see other people at storage units that are filled to the rafters with stuff, it’s obvious this is an industry that was inevitable in a consumer culture. I wish I would have been the one to see it as fortunes have been made in a society of too much stuff, divorce, moving out, and selling houses.

And the more I deal with our stuff, I find myself thinking about the transitory value of stuff.

It’s somewhat depressing to see things that once seemed urgent to buy and have, now placed under what we call the magic tree outside our house, waiting for some passerby to pick them up and to be added to their stuff. Or the pile on the side of the house of the broken and old, ready for the inevitable trip to the dump.

I’m not the first to talk about the problems of excess consumption and the loss of appreciation for a few valued things. It’s just this experience has made me realize how subtle the problem is.

Until forced to confront it in a situation like ours, individual items are purchased, kept and used for some time, and then sold, given away, or tossed in the trash and it’s often with little thought. Only when dealing with all the stuff in aggregate does it become obvious.

I had friend, now deceased, who held a garage sale when he turned 75. He said he spent the first 70 years of life accumulating things; then all he wanted was to get rid of most of it. I now understand what he meant. Stuff begins to weigh you down.

I’m very fond of the writings of Antoine de Saint-Exupéry. I particularly like his writing in Wind, Sand, and Stars where he wrote: “In anything at all, perfection is finally attained not when there is no longer anything to add, but when there is no longer anything to take away, when a body has been stripped down to its nakedness.”

He was writing about an airplane wing, but the same sentiment could apply to stuff.

I’m a long way from perfection.

Author: TomR