About 18 months ago I saw a homeless man standing on a street corner. He was wearing several layers of clothes, a pair of galoshes and was carrying a pair of sandals. I saw him 6 months later and he had added a battered backpack to his ensemble. A couple weeks ago I saw him again, and now the overstuffed backpack was crammed into a shopping cart overflowing with odds and ends.

About 18 months ago, one of my friend’s and her spouse were complaining that the two-bedroom apartment they were in was too small. There wasn’t room for all of the stuff they had received when they married and most of it was still at her mother’s. They moved to a three-bedroom townhouse, but they still complained of not having enough space. Now, most of the stuff was down in the garage, so there was no place to put the car.

Some other friends of ours complained for months about not having enough room for their stuff. Their 2-car garage was overflowing and they hadn’t been able to park any of their cars in the garage since they had bought the place. They finally rented a storage unit, which now holds all the stuff that wouldn’t fit in the garage.

So, what is it about humans their “stuff”? Why do we need so much stuff? Even when we have no home, we hoard stuff? And when our homes are overrun, we rent places to store more stuff.

I’m at a loss. I really don’t understand. You see, in my mind, if you haven’t used something in 6 months, then maybe you really don’t need it. If you haven’t seen something in 3 or 4 months, then you probably don’t even remember that you have it.

These people don’t even use the need to pack for a move as an opportunity to eliminate some of the stuff that they haven’t seen or used in years. Instead, they simply pack it all up. But either they fail to mark the boxes with what’s in it, or maybe they just like grab bags, and so mark it Miscellaneous. So, they move it their new place, but instead of unpacking all of this stuff, they simply put it in the garage, because (after all) it’s just miscellaneous stuff. Then, not realizing that they already have something, they go out and buy it all over again.

Pretty soon, they have so many versions of the same thing that they now need a storage unit, where they can more easily forget what they have. So, now with everything miles away instead of underfoot, it becomes all right to resume buying again. After all, they now have this big empty garage to fill (again), and not with cars (why be so mundane).

I, however, dream of the day when I don’t need stuff—any stuff. Stuff ties you down (think Marley the ghost in a Christmas Carol). I would rather be free, unfettered by physical things, not tied down to the physical world by a need for or a love of physical stuff. Yet, I am human, so I do have (some) stuff. I own a home, and that home has stuff in it. However, much of what I have in my house is second-hand stuff and people’s cast offs. (You might say, I’m into recycling.;-)

But there’s nothing in that house that I’m so attached to that if it were destroyed or taken away that I would be devastated over it. Well, nothing except my husband, that is. 😉

So, why the need for stuff? Is it that it helps to define us as physical beings? Does it give us a more secure hold on our place in this physical world? Or is it that we’re all just so forgetful that we can’t remember what we have, so we have to keep buying more of it?


7 thoughts on “Stuff

  1. Very well said. Both my husband and I periodically go through our “stuff” and recycle to Goodwill. However, my husband has a much harder time letting go of certain of his “stuff,” and it’s probably the main thing we argue about. He can have 7 pairs of jeans, 4 or 5 wind blazers…he’ll be in pursuit of the “perfect” cell phone case, and buy 6 or 7 until he gets one…

    After 20 years he’s gotten a lot better. But its taken a lot of badgering. Still, he has the inclination toward accumulation. I have gotten him to stop hiding stuff behind the chair where “no body sees it.” Even he now acknowledges that the space is more breathable. I attribute this to his being a Gemini who needs multiples of everything. But, maybe he’s just a “stuffer.”


  2. Maybe those of us who don’t cling to stuff are destined to be paired with those who do. My spouse is a great “collector” of things and stuff. He has a very difficult time letting go of things — even when something is broken and no longer works, he insists on hanging on to it (you never know when you might need the parts;-)

    And so it goes–the power of stuff holds sway over us all 🙂


  3. The more stuff I get rid of the more my daughter collects! I am so glad she has her own cottage. I love the liberating feeling I have when I get rid of stuff. I get rid of it all the time and I still have too much! I am getting better at this now and am enjoying the freedom of being bogged down by it all.


    1. I also love the feeling of not being held down by a lot of a stuff. Not that I envision suddenly moving or anything, but even just the openness of the rooms with their minimalistic furnishings just gives me a sense of breathing room 😉


  4. I have seen the same thing near where I live in Queensland. I agree with you that we seem to be a species of collectors. We never seem to have enough stuff.

    You have interesting postings.


  5. It’s always about more stuff; even when people are reduced to living on the street or in their car, they still won’t give up their stuff.


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