I have been thinking about stuff over the past couple of days. Stuff and things that matter in life – very heady topics. The catalyst is a book I just started reading, “No Baggage: A Minimalist Tale of Love & Wandering” by Clara Bensen. I will provide no spoilers since I’m not even halfway done, but it’s a charming memoir piece about a young (very intelligent) woman who is emerging from a 2-year despair of immobilizing anxiety. She falls in love with a guy who she meets on OK Cupid. This man values his freedom and avoids attachments yet he invites her on a three-week journey from Istanbul to London. The catch is that they have no luggage – only the one set of clothes each is wearing and they are using couchsurfing.com for accommodations. So far, that strategy is working beautifully for them, but I’m sure havoc will ensue.
As I began the book, I had a business event that the Hunter forfeited to Robin (a night full of my frenemies did not entice him, although when he saw the menu he had regrets). In any case, it was one of those evenings that the ½ of the 1% are familiar with: very expensive dinner (probably about $200 – $250 per person when you factor in the private happy hour complete with piano player) and great gift (another $50-$100 each) with other odds & ends including people flying in, so I’m guessing the evening for this group of 2 dozen cost about $15,000 to $20,000. Over dinner, the conversation was about how one guy bought used 3 engines for his boat because at the time he didn’t have the $30k to replace them with new ones; trips to exotic locales, multiple homes – you get the drift.
The next day, as I sat with the Hunter over a nice homemade pasta dinner, I began my rant against Stuff. I ranted about how complicated the lives of the ½ of 1% really are and how money of that nature usually makes life so complicated because you keep accumulating more Stuff which then requires more responsibility. “Enough!” I said. From now until the end of our lease on this current abode, I want to shed unnecessary belongings. I want things that bring me joy and don’t burden me. I want less living space so I have less to clean (I am in the middle of my Pre-Thanksgiving heavy-duty house cleaning which always brings out the Grinch in me).
The Hunter piped up that he wanted to accumulate things because he has spent years on the other side. His Wish List includes tools for a workshop, various recreational vehicles , another dog to keep the Kracken company. I paused and then amended my rant. “OK, if you are getting things that you will USE – not just sit around for a once a year use, then I would be OK with that. I’m talking about houses chock full of STUFF. So much stuff you don’t even know what you have.
I was guilty of the too much Stuff in my previous life. I walk the dogs around our neighborhood and shake my head at the number of homes that have garages so crammed with Stuff that they can’t even store a car in the damn garage. When my Ex moved out of the house (I left him with all of my Stuff because I realized I wanted very, very few things), he tried a garage sale and then literally threw all the Stuff to the curb. It was a mountain (I drove by). It was a shame to see my previous life all piled up on the curb. I told him to hire an estate company to liquidate it, but of course, he couldn’t take a good idea from me.
When I liquidated my mom’s house, I realized how much stuff she had crammed into an adorable 2-bedroom house. It was too much for one person. I vowed not to do this to my kids. I vowed that I would only have things that I use and bring me happiness. I have wavered intermittently because old habits die hard, but I have done much better. It is time to cull things back again. I want less Stuff in my life, but more experiences. Next up is the question, “What experiences do I want?”