The Obligatory Stuff Post

George Carlin – Comic Relief 1986 * Please note this linked content contains adult language

Actually this is just a place for my stuff, ya know? That’s all, a little place for my stuff. That’s all I want, that’s all you need in life, is a little place for your stuff, ya know? I can see it on your table, everybody’s got a little place for their stuff. This is my stuff, that’s your stuff, that’ll be his stuff over there. That’s all you need in life, a little place for your stuff. That’s all your house is: a place to keep your stuff. If you didn’t have so much stuff, you wouldn’t need a house. You could just walk around all the time…

While George and I may differ on what “stuff” is important to each of us, I can totally relate to the idea that we are slaves to our possessions. As I sift through the various trinkets, baubles, and doo-dads, I think “when did I drunk dial the Home Shopping Network?” I’m certain that with just a little heaping and a good amount of sufficiently pious consumer driven genuflection, a shopping mall would spring forth fully formed and open for business. I, foolishly it would seem, had been under the assumption that we had spent the better part of the last two years divesting ourselves of goods. We have sold, and donated and tossed our way through a mountain of things, none of which seem to have the slightest bit to do with our life goals.

That is really when it hit me. We had acquired a couch, a dresser, a bed and a television. We had piled books, collectibles, and board games up in corners and drawers and cabinets. All of these things that are necessary for a convenient and accessible modern living space, we had them in triplicate. What we didn’t have were the items that were going to get us where we wanted to go. The material possessions that would fulfill our dreams of seeing the world and experiencing different cultures as a family. The things that we were hording were not our dreams but an anchor that was keeping us from going where we wanted to go. We had to buy a huge house to keep them in, which meant we didn’t have enough money to spend on long vacations in distant tropical locations. We couldn’t leave them behind because who would watch over them if we weren’t around to protect them? This is the insidious nature of “cargo” that no one in my high school Home Economics class ever talked about.

What does this all mean you ask? Am I racing to the bathroom to shave a faux-bald spot in my head as I search for the closest abbey to begin my new monastic lifestyle? Of course not. I still have things I want to do and dreams I aspire towards, and to do those things takes a variety of tools. What I’m really interested in with this process isn’t purely getting rid of stuff, but of making sure that the things I do have support the lifestyle that I’ve always wanted. Mindless consumerism is about having things just because. I want to create, to share and to grow as a person. I want to experience life in a new way. This means looking at my possessions and consciously, intentionally even, asking myself, “how does this gadget help me reach my goals?” I found that for my life, most of the things I had didn’t fit. That meant they had to go so that I could live the life that I really wanted and I could settle the ongoing conflict between the things I had, and the things I wanted to do.

There is an ongoing death match between your material possessions and your life. Take a minute, look around you and ask yourself honestly, “which side is winning?”

1 comment

  1. Evy Lizarraga says:

    There is an ongoing death match between your material possessions and your life. Take a minute, look around you and ask yourself honestly, “which side is winning?”

    This is something that I ask myself often. Great article! I look forward to hearing more from you all on your journey!

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