Welcome to the discussion. It’s Week Four of Real Estate of Mind’s ongoing exploration of home and aging issues. Along with a slew of other ingredients that inevitably find their way into the complicated melting pot that gets stirred up when people start becoming more conscious of growing older.
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Today, we are going to talk about a subject that all Realtors are intimately familiar with. Something near but not always dear to their hearts. A factor that’s part and parcel of just about every single home transition they have or will ever be involved with – to a greater or lesser degree.
What am I talking about? I’m talking about that huge umbrella of a euphemism that fits under the heading of “stuff”.
You know, “stuff” as in all the stuff that people collect and fill their homes with. All the stuff that people form strange attractions to. All the stuff that’s in their junk drawers and closets and attics and garages. In bags and boxes. Piled high on shelves and jammed tightly in corners.
The stuff they are saving. Or the stuff they can’t bring themselves to throw away. The “stuff” that over time, gets stuffed down like baggage from the past until it is overflowing or taking up way too much room or has gotten so heavy to carry around (physically and psychically) that it makes it harder to actually conceive of picking up to move.
Even if each and every one of us knows somewhere deep in our heart of hearts, that it is all “stuff” that we aren’t going to be able take with us when we die.
Maybe the ancient Egyptians were able to pack a few important possessions for personal use in the afterlife, but there’s not enough real estate left on the planet to start burying even modest members of modern consumer culture with a fraction of the stuff they’ve accumulated.
To get into a better mood for this discussion, try Googling the old George Carlin video on “stuff”. It brilliantly captures our weird, addictive, all-too-human love affair with things.
We’ve spent the last three weeks talking about the huge importance of homes in our lives and their dual roles as our biggest assets and hallowed psychic centering places. Is there anything that ranks higher on Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs than home does for human beings?
But how ironic is it that home so often acts as a huge repository for all kinds of junk that so many people can’t quite seem to figure out how to recycle back into the flow of the world.
It’s my passionate belief that in order to figure out more graceful strategies for growing older, facing change and moving ahead in life, all those aging baby boomers out there are going to have to get better at rethinking their relationship to the stuff they define themselves by.
What’s important from this point forward? You can’t move down unless you are ready to give some things up. You can’t shrink your debt and conserve your personal resources if you can’t quit buying things. You can’t open yourself up to all those “life experiences” you’d dearly love to have before you leave the planet unless you are willing to empty your rice bowl.
Next week: Emptying the rice bowl