On possessions

Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful.
~William Morris

I’m not an ascetic. I don’t want to live life with just a sleeping bag and a backpack (although for short periods of time, that would be really cool). But I’m not big on possessions. My parents moved every five years and I’m at least as much of a nomad as they. And unless you happen to own a moving company, moving is a pain. And I really like the idea of being able to move quickly and efficiently without a lot of fuss. I also don’t believe in dusting. If it can’t be quickly brushed off in annoyance it’s not going to be dusted in my apartment. When I purged my crap my apartment became a lot of flat surfaces without all the bullshit occupying them. The cats like it, and I don’t have to worry about them knocking shit around, save for the Tiny Buddha, but He seems to have found a nice hiding spot snuggled up against the computer monitor.

But I’m not everyone. Some people have a lot of stuff and they get a lot out of their stuff. There’s nothing wrong with that. It takes all types, and even I have to admit Christmas and Halloween wouldn’t be nearly as fun if no one decorated. (I don’t, because I hate storing stuff.)

But at times the stuff people acquire just seems excessive. I’m not just talking about hoarders. The “average American” seems to have an obsession with stuff they don’t even remember they have. It’s not a decorating scheme, assembled consciously. It’s not items that are necessary or beautiful. It’s old toys, clothes we don’t wear anymore, bits of memorabilia that we can’t bear to part with.

Sometimes it’s just flat out unnecessary. And not just physical items, either. I’ve been running the same operating system on my computer since I first got it. Windows 2000, still running quite well despite being “outdated.” One of these days I’ll get around to upgrading the second hard drive to Windows XP, but only because it’s getting harder and harder to find new games that will run on 2k. If it weren’t for that, I wouldn’t bother with the upgrade. It’s unnecessary. You don’t need the best and most advanced computer on the block to watch stupid cat videos on YouTube.

Instead of owning three sets of dishes, pick out your favorite and get rid of the other two. Do this exercise with everything. Obviously you’re going to need more than one pair of pants, but decide on a good number, choose the ones you love wearing the most, and ditch the mediocre ones. Yes, your favorite dish might break. But better a life lived short and rich than a life lived long and boring.

It’s not about how much money you do or don’t spend. If you spend twice as much on those pants you love, good. You love them and I should hope you wear them often. In the long run, spending more on something you’re actually going to use is better sense than spending a little on a lot of items you hate. So go buy that nice can opener from the Pampered Chef. But make sure you’re going to use it.

I’m not going to do a “decluttering” post. It’s been done too many times by too many people. So here are some links to my favorites:
A Guide to Creating a Minimalist Home
How to Let Go of Possessions
Four Ways to Fight “But I Might Need It Someday” Syndrome
How to Declutter


One Response to “On possessions”

  1. Dargon Says:

    As I have prepared to move, I’ve been noticing just how much shit I have that I don’t need, don’t use, etc. I have another three bags of stuff to take to Goodwill.

    As I have said before, I used to packrat really bad. It’s kind of funny, I didn’t want to throw away or donate a lot of the stuff I have gotten rid of, but now, not long after starting, I cannot remember half of what I got rid of. It is becoming surprisingly easy to throw things into the donate or trash piles as opposed to the keep one.

    Yeah, I have things I don’t need, per say, but I use them, and I like them.

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