One day when I was out and about picking up household supplies, I overheard a young boy remark to his friend, “Let’s work some more, so we can buy more stuff.” His remark was made as he was making his way to the cash register to purchase the stuff he had in his hands. His comment both amused and saddened me, because I occasionally think the relationship between work, life and stuff can get easily skewed—this from a woman who is in the middle of a major “stuff” purge.
I like stuff, but I think I’ve accumulated too much stuff in my lifetime. No, wait—I know I’ve accumulated too much stuff. My closets and pantry could attest to this. At times, they’ve resembled WALLE’s storage container, even after bouts of purging and reordering. Where does all that stuff come from, and why is it so hard to let go of?
In the last few years, I’ve noticed that when I’m actively engaged in creating, I buy less stuff. I suspect the joy of one replaces the pleasure of the other. So . . . what items am I currently relinquishing? They seem to fall into the following categories:
-Decorative items I purchased to try and make my home “the home” (which really wasn’t my home)
-Items I settled for when my heart advised otherwise (I should have waited or did without.)
-Materials for projects that never materialized or failed miserably
-Items that were once appropriate to my life but are no more
-Objects I’ve tried to save just because they once belonged to someone I love
I’ve always found the purging process difficult, because I’m creatively and emotionally attached to many of the objects, as well as the memories they invoke. But when I find myself taking something out of a donation box, immediately after placing it within, I tell myself there’s probably someone else that will find a similar joy in its ownership, possibly creating what I never could.
There are a few things that have escaped every purge and always will. Other people might find them quite ordinary, these little bits I’ve been given or salvaged from the nooks and crannies of our family farm. Some I’ve recycled for use in my studio, including a sugar dish I formed into a pincushion and a lemonade bottle I filled with vintage buttons. Other gifted pieces I simply keep near for viewing-- lovely, light feathers retrieved from various locations, natural treasures from family hikes, and smooth, braided strands.
During this most recent purge, I’ve told myself I’ll have to do more than eliminate and donate. I must make a commitment to being more conscious of my choices, separating items that offer fleeting pleasure from those that provide daily sustenance or a lifetime of meaning and joy. I hope to better recognize what is truly “the stuff of life”.