Unnecessary possessions are unnecessary burdens. If you have them, you have to take care of them! There is great freedom in simplicity of living. It is those who have enough but not too much who are the happiest. – Mildred Lisette Norman, ‘Peace Pilgrim’
It’s inevitable: when we move to a new home or office, a large part of the dread we feel is caused by the certainty of having to go through all the ‘junk’. These past few weeks I’ve been going through all kinds of junk. Sometimes it’s not junk: it’s just the feeling of having ‘too much stuff’.
We are used to being surrounded by things. It’s normal: we make a space ours through objects, mostly. Many of these objects have important, positive meanings for us. Some others are valuable and/or useful items that make our lives easier, or a little bit more interesting. For example, I couldn’t live without many of my books. I also have a sizable collection of scarves – I love each and every one of them!
What happens when we get used to being ‘outnumbered’ by our possessions? For example: when deciding whether to take part in a special adventure – such as a trip overseas, a retreat, etc – depends on who can watch our stuff or where we can store certain items? How does it affect our lives when we have to devote a considerable amount of time to taking care of our objects (an antique book collection that requires special care; grandma’s piano which we inherited and has to be tuned and polished every other month; vintage clothes that must be protected from the passage of time; vinyl collections that take an enormous amount of space and can take forever to pack and move; etc.)?
We establish an emotional connection with our possessions and, while there’s nothing wrong with that, eventually there comes a time when we have accumulated too much stuff. We can’t even pay proper attention to each item and we may end up jeopardizing the integrity of the most precious things, simply because we have too much. Beloved things can (and often do) become a burden. I’m not suggesting that you have a garage sale next weekend and sell everything you own, but it is spiritually healthy that once in a while we perform an honest evaluation of how many things we own, and how many of those things are actually being used or enjoyed. You may discover that, even though you love the idea of having a certain item in your possession, in your daily life the impact of that is minimal or non-existent.
Do you own your stuff, or does your stuff own you? I’m listening at firstname.lastname@example.org.