Wednesday, April 13, 2016

What's wrong with too much?

Maybe I don't have to convince you....

There is a good chance that I might not need to convince you there is something wrong with too much stuff. You might already believe me when I say that too much stuff takes a lot of joy out of life and a lot of extra time away from what really matters. But just in case you need some convincing, let's talk about it for a minute.  

Look around your house. Look at the counter tops. Look in the closets. Look under the beds and out in the garage. Chances are your stuff is everywhere. Chances are you don't like it but it's all there anyway. I've had lots of people, in different classes or dejunking sessions tell me "Honestly, if I could get my family, pets and pictures out of my house, I would love for it to all burn down and start over. Someone please just set it on fire and I'll move to Walden Pond where life is simple."  

And, if you're like me and are a fan of books like "Little House on the Prairie," more than once you have thought "If I could take modern medicine and plumbing with me, I would go back to that time in a heart beat!" How great would it be to only have 2 books for the whole family?! A bible and a book about nature! And one porcelain doll as the extent of your household decorations? And when you ate a meal, you washed each plate because there was only 1 plate and cup per person? and when you moved across the country all of your possessions could fit into one small covered wagon?! 

Wouldn't it be nice to have less stuff and clearer spaces?

Who likes to clean? OK, vacuuming might be the most relaxing part of my day. But seriously, the rest of it can GO. These days we have bigger and bigger houses and more and MORE square feet to clean. And we have way more clothes, shoes, toys, books, knickknacks and piles of stuff to pick up, wipe down, dust and vacuum around. Getting your house clean can feel good but I'd rather feel good doing a million other things like reading a really great book or magazine article, or going on a walk with a friend, or popping popcorn and watching funny videos with my kids. Now those things feel GOOD.  The more stuff you have, the more stuff you have to clean and cleaning takes time and effort that you could be spending doing really awesome things!

There are already a lot of things in life to worry about--like who's going to run this great nation of ours if all we have to choose from are the two most ridiculous candidates our country has ever known? Or how can I make sure my 3 super-charged thrill-seeking sons and 1 extremely handsome but even more thrill-seeking husband stay alive amidst their many crazy stunts? Or how can I get my daughter to grow up healthy and strong if all she is willing to eat is Doritos and Top Ramen?

Yeah, there's already a lot to worry about Why let our stuff be one of them?  

What are the many ways stuff makes you worry?  Well....
* you might worry about your junk getting lost or stolen or dropped or cracked or ruined. 
* you might worry about other people borrowing all your stuff and not returning it.
* you might worry about your stuff getting lost and not being able to find it (hate that!)
* you might worry about who you can give your stuff to when you die.
* you might worry about people stopping by and accidentally seeing all of your stuff.
* you might worry about how your stuff is taking over your house and you cant' stop it!

Stuff makes us worry.  And worry gives us gray hair, wrinkles and ulcers. Enough said.

Remember that part about worrying that someone will stop by and see your stuff? Is that just the beginning for you? 

How grumpy do you get when you look around your house and realize you are not in control, your stuff is? It's multiplied like rabbits during the night, you're pretty sure, and you have no say in where it lands or where it goes?

How embarrassed do you get when someone stops by the house and as they step into the entry way you feel an intense need to explain why your home looks like laundry day/moving day/Christmas Day all rolled into one?

How mortified are you when a guest asks to use your restroom and you immediately start praying that they won't open any of the cupboards or closets looking for a towel? and they won't happen to glance in any of the bedrooms as they walk by to get to the potty?

How many "heated discussions" have you had with your significant other or child about the amount of junk you/they have and refuse to get rid of but yet can't seem to tame? 

Isn't it sad how many really ugly feelings our junk gives us? Once I was in the home of a very lovely, kind and sweet lady. It was Easter and we were invited to eat dinner there among family and friends. It was mentioned that we were out of olives and that there more in the larger pantry in the basement so I offered to go get them. Almost immediately, this normally sweet and docile lady got agitated.  There was no way she was going to allow me to see her messy basement and she insisted that only her immediate family was allowed down there. In trying to reassure her that I did not care in the least about the condition of her basement and her piles of stuff down there, I thought I could defuse the situation and calm her down. Nope. Instead, she got even more agitated and angry--on Easter Sunday no less--and, in the end, I did not go get the olives.  But I did walk away with a life lesson.  NO AMOUNT OF STUFF IS WORTH THAT KIND OF EMBARRASSMENT AND WORRY. It's part of the curse of affluence and I hate it.

One of the most profound testimonials I have ever read on this subject, comes from an anonymous source. I wish I knew this lady and her story better but here's what she says in her own words:

"I have never been much of a housekeeper.  I don’t know why it’s so hard for me.  My mother was immaculate and super organized.  My house is always a disaster.  I can remember only one time when I really felt in control—like I was doing a decent job as a housewife.  It was while we were having our new house built.  We sold our old home too soon and had to move into a small rental place for three months.  We put everything but the bare necessities into storage.  All we kept out were our clothes, some bedding and dishes, a few of the kids’ favorite toys and the TV—that was about it.  I have never felt so good in my life!  I felt the house was clean for the first time because there was so little to pick up.  I had more time for the kids and enjoyed them more than I ever remember enjoying them.  We were happy and relaxed.  Until the day the moving van pulled up in front of our new house.  As they started to unload all of our boxes of extra clothes and bedding and toys and all of my stacks of sewing and unfinished projects and our extra decorations and knickknacks and over 600 books and record albums and all of my garage sale furniture that I still haven’t refinished and our souvenirs and papers and boxes, I felt myself slipping right back into my old pit again--right back feeling depressed and overwhelmed and helpless.  Right now I’ve still got piles of these boxes unopened in the basement.  I dread going through them but I’m scared to get rid of them because something good might be inside."

Can you relate? 

And, more importantly, did you catch that? 
"I have never felt so good in my life!"

And you parents....did you catch this?

"I had more time for the kids and enjoyed them more than I ever remember enjoying them."

Do you need any more convincing than that? 

Our stuff clutters up our lives and takes us away from PEOPLE and RELATIONSHIPS! 

That's what's wrong with too much.

Next posts' topic:  "Then why do we do it?"

1 comment:

  1. I can TOTALLY relate! Since we move a bit being in the military there are times when we too only have bare necessities. It is so nice to not have to worry and clean and fight over junk! It's really not worth it.