The Stuff We Own


It becomes most clear at moving time. The time in your life when you add up the sum total of what you’ve brought and bought into this world, and realize all that it’s going to take (in sweat and tears and dollars) to haul it somewhere else.

Most of us, in these times, start thinking about what we really need, and why on earth we have so much more than we really do. Why we can’t just live with 100 things, or why we can’t just move into a tiny house and vow to stay there.

The reason, of course, is that we often really do like the stuff. We like the act of consumption. The moment of walking in a store and thinking that such-and-such purchase will somehow change us. That doesn’t mean we hold lofty ideas that a sweater will make us look like a model, or that a perfume will make us truly feel like a million dollars, but we do hold smaller ambitions. Tinier notions that these things we accumulate really will make a difference.

Most of the time, of course, they don’t. You may be able to remember a great dress you once wore to a New Year’s Eve bash, a pair of shoes that really made your legs look great, or a dining room table that really was the cat’s meow. But, for all the rest of the stuff you bought and carried from apartment to home to bigger home over the years? It probably didn’t change you. And you may not even remember it.

I am light years away from being a minimalist, or even a “failed minimalist,” as one friend calls it. But I still have the voice. The voice that asks if I really need it. The voice that asks if this is just one more thing that, in five years’ time, I will shake my head that I have to pay a moving van to haul around.

Do you have the voice? The voice telling you to put down the stuff? The voice saying, “WRONG CHOICE!” Or at least, “WAIT AND THINK!”

Do you try to listen?

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