Purging the Stuff That Owns Us

The pruning, the watering, the dusting, and the ironing. If you have stuff, you need to upkeep it. Kids need food and clothes. Your body needs hair cuts and doctor’s appointments. Your house needs gutters and your car needs gas. If we listen to the mantra of American marketing, getting more while spending less is what we live for. But what if all our getting and spending doesn’t make us happy? If our lifestyles of ownership stresses us out? Then perhaps we need to take a look at what we own and why. Really look.

I do occasional forays into cleaning out my stuff. I have recently reached the middle of the Marie Kondo’s book The Life-changing Magic of Tidying Up. But I stopped. Partially because the holiday season hit. And partly because I know that there are deeper reasons for much of my ownership of my stuff that I have to plow through. And I may not be ready to go there yet.

Little by little I’ve touched drawer contents and desktop data. I’ve completely overhauled our internet and computer information saving/backup system. Very satisfying to not have to be irritated or concerned about any of that anymore. But there are a half-dozen boxes in the attic that contain objects from my childhood. They are stacked on top of each other, listing and falling about. And it seems an indication to me that I may need to repack up my childhood with some care. Purging the stuff that owns you on

All the stuff I keep is to remind me of something. I suspect sometimes the items are breadcrumbs leading me back to a bit of unfinished business. My childhood has a lot of that. So when last night I dared to read further into Marie Kondo’s book, I was struck by the next batch of wisdom I read.

“By handling each sentimental item and deciding what to discard, you process your past. Or it becomes a burden and a hindrance from living now”.

“It is not our memories but the person we’ve become because of those past experiences that we should treasure. This is the lesson these keepsakes teach us when we sort them. The space in which we live should be for the person we are becoming now, not for the person we were in the past.”

So I will set aside some time and arm myself with new more respectable containers for my childhood. I will dig through, decipher, decide, and then ditch what no longer belongs to me. And I will repeat that process as I go through my files for tax season. And my garage junk in preparation for painting season. Layers of ownership need to be peeled off me for the new year to feel lighter and more hopeful. I need space for what makes me happier. And to let go of what no longer serves me. And Miss Kondo promises, “One of the magical effects of tidying is the confidence in your decision-making ability.” I think I could use a big boost to my decision-making confidence too.

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