Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Rerun Wednesday - Stuff, Part One

Posted by Terry McNichols

(I posted this in July of 2008 and reran in November. I have to admit I have been doing more acquiring than purging of stuff in the interim. So I post it yet again in our reruns. I need a new resolve!)

“A home is like a reservoir equipped with a check valve. The valve permits influx but prevents outflow. Acquisition goes on day and night, smoothly, subtly, imperceptibly. I have no sharp taste for acquiring things, but it’s not necessary to desire them. Goods and chattel seek a man out. They find him even though his guard is up.” E. B. White, "Essays."
E. B. White is much better known for Charlotte's Web and Stuart Little. But his essays are a delight and he starts our discussion of stuff so perfectly. I came across this quote in the middle of my last move and identified completely. The essay is hilarious, beginning like this:

"For some weeks now I have been engaged in dispersing the contents of this apartment, trying to persuade hundreds of inanimate objects to scatter and leave me alone. It is not a simple matter. I am impressed by the reluctance of one’s worldly goods to go out again into the world."
I brag about the fact that there is a box waiting to be filled and transported to Goodwill in my house at all times. I do seriously make a trip to Goodwill almost weekly, usually with a small box of belongings, but still we have too much stuff. I believe this is one of the big challenges of aging: How do we part with our stuff? And when do we part with our stuff? And who will have to do the work of parting with our stuff if we don't keep working at it?

I made a pact with myself several years ago to seriously begin to get rid of stuff. I had just stopped in at an estate sale, hoping to nab some good stuff, and was aghast to find an elderly woman's entire life laid out for the public to peruse. Our stuff loses it's value and has the possibility of this type of an end. When I came across a table displaying this woman's bras, I made a pact to begin getting rid of the things my children won't be needing or wanting. I can't promise that I've done a great job of fulfilling that pact, but I am working on it. Since my husband and I keep moving to smaller places, we have had to let things go, but we have not yet stopped accumulating, so the task remains.

Stay tuned for many parts to this thread on "stuff."
(Photo by gamibot, shared via Flickr)

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