I have too much stuff. I mean, I use all the stuff I have (mostly), and I go through my stuff regularly to cull and donate the stuff I don't use, but the stuff, she is taking over my life. I no longer fit into a 1,100 square-foot apartment. And believe me, it's mostly my stuff, not Bob's. I even have an entire studio room chock full of stuff. Some of it is collections stuff, like my skulls, vintage clothes, and magazines/ephemera, some of it is art stuff (in other words, stuff to make other stuff), a large part is books (many of them on how to make stuff from other stuff), and, of course, my toy animals.
(I hear squeaks late at night.)
And I constantly get catalogues exhorting me to buy more stuff. I know I should get off a lot of the lists, but I really love getting catalogues - I find things I never knew were out there (seriously - I got a catalogue of Cher's home furnishings once - very gothy, it was, too). Mostly I resist, but recently, what with needing to get Stuff-with-a-capital-Uff for the new house, I've been shopping a bit. In any case, I read all the catalogues that catch my eye, even the ones that don't fit any need of mine, and make me wonder quite how I got onto that mailing list.
(Fortunately, the dumpsters in Arvonia take catalogs for recycling.) (I can also take them to work.)
So I got a nice catalog for Kripalu, a place in Massachussetts that does yoga and other retreat packages. It's not a spa - the cheapest overnight packages are for dormitory rooms with bunk beds and a shared bathroom (not my style - I'm bathroom-shy) - but does offer spa services, in addition to hundreds of different classes all tied into self-awareness, healing, enlightenment, and every variety of yoga you can think of, including hip-hop yoga.
(Two great tastes that taste great together!)
The course descriptions are earnest, and wholesome, and the catalogue features pictures of real people, not perfect models, but it's all entirely too touchy and feely for me, as I am a cynical bastard. Even though I do appreciate the idea behind these things, I'm buzz-word sensitive, and I know better than to ruin someone else's spiritual enlightenment by laugh-snorting at being told to "understand and love (myself) in a way (I) never have before". Because I am TEN YEARS OLD.
It's not that I don't want to be more in touch wth myself, my surroundings, the earth, and all the other delightful things they want to help me with, but I just have an uncontrollable urge to giggle when someone says "moon cycle" instead of menstruation. I really do respect that people find deep meaning in this way of speaking and approaching the world, but I simply can't speak in that language and not be conscious of how "jargon-y" it sounds without meaning to. I also understand that substituting "special" words for common ones helps some people to define their ownership of particular things, but it always comes off as self-conscious and precious to me, in the same way that wiccans who insist on spelling "magic" with an extra "k" sets my teeth on edge.
(No disrespect intended; it's my issue, not yours.)
So I know better than to inflict my inner brat on other people, all of whom are better off finding deep spiritual awakening without me around.
But the catalogue did have a rather nice essay from one of the regular retreat teachers about stuff, and how the pursuit of stuff (he even used the word "stuff", which made me happy) can get in the way of our happiness. He talked about the aggregation of stuff as a screen for feelings of need, anger, insecurity, and hunger, and even pointed out the negative side of striving for less stuff (as in "I am so spiritually enlightened, I can go through my day with just a stick, and therefore I am more special than you"-type one-upmanship), and how a lot of people's attempts at "going green" are still centered around stuff.
I am down with this. I accumulate stuff, because stuff fascinates me. The antiques and vintage things I collect all speak to me in various ways of past lives and past times, and they give me a feeling of connectivity (now there's a buzz word for you!) with the past. I'm a visual and tactile little beastie - the shape of something will delight me, and I want to experience it over and over again. I like my skulls, because they don't seem morbid; to me, they talk about life. I even collect wild animal skulls from the woods (I have a knack for finding them; Bob doesn't know how I do it, but it disturbs him slightly).
But - I do have entirely too much stuff, and I assauge my guilt feelings about that stuff by trying to ensure as little of the useable stuff goes to landfills as possible (next, I'm going to be working on my trash), and goes to charity stores instead. I want to make the house as green as possible, with recycling, a compost heap, growing my own vegetables and fruits, and planting to create as much of a wildlife sanctuary as I can without giving the deer and rabbits all my hard-earned tomatoes (they can have the zucchini).
A bunch of my catalogues now have all sorts of delightful (and pricey) "green" stuff. I can buy a $700 composter, designer recycling bins, gorgeous recycled garden things (stuff), artisanal birdbaths made from recycled glass, and I can easily drop many thousands on more stuff.
Talk about going "green". Where did all my money go?
I don't plan on getting most of that stuff. I might get a cute birdbath (in addition to the fountain we will have in the courtyard), because I loves the little birdies (though if the vultures decide they like it, I might need to get a bigger one), but I can make my own compost heap, thank you. I can use cheap bins for sorting my recycling, since they'll be in the pantry anyway. I know how to do all this "green" stuff for cheap (which is partly the point, I guess). Sure, it'll never be featured in "Better Homes and Gardens", but it will be functional.
Besides, I already have a house's-worth of stuff. I've come to terms with the fact that I'm not really the minimalist type (think cozy English country cottage, filled with the stuff of lifetimes, all precious and loved). And designer minimalist is way outside my budget. I don't think I'll ever lose my prediliction for accumulating stuff. On the other hand, most of it is antiques.
...at least I can say I'm recycling.