I know I’ve been piling it on recently, but I promise, this is my last column on the subject of people and their “stuff”. Even if the “stuff” in our lives isn’t going to go away or fade quietly into the night just because we stop talking about it. Heck, that¹s how it all got there in the first place.
As the population ages, more baby-boomers and their octogenarian parents are facing profound transitions. Many of those challenges are requiring them to down-size and re-evaluate their relationships with their own “stuff.” Coming to terms with the baggage we carry around with us is an inevitable part of life. Just like aging is an inevitable prelude to what comes next.
In more lucid moments, most of us know we “can’t take it with us.” Even though, when we’re locked into the unconscious routines of our daily lives, most of us keep stashing it away – outta sight/outta mind stuffing it down instead of pausing to come to grips with the cumulative weight of it all. And even though, the most common default solution is to “leave it all behind” for someone else to deal with after we’re gone.
My thanks to Claire Rubach, (thehomeweeder.com). She’s a thoughtful observer of the human condition. A great helper/guide when it comes to the paring down and cleansing of stuff. I encourage anyone wrestling with their “stuff demons” to give her a call. Each person’s stuff is unique. An objective voice shining the light of consciousness on our collective tendencies is a helpful service.
Here are some other last thoughts about people and their stuff and the “fog of more” that so many are caught up in:
Human beings are wired to chase after stuff. Neuro-marketing studies have pinpointed parts of the brain that release increased dopamine levels at the mere thought of buying things. We don¹t experience the same cocktail high of brain chemicals once we actually own them.
Buying, collecting, saving “things” is a way of trying to fill some of the holes we feel in our lives. Some lack of something. Some less than something. Some wound that needs patching.
It’ s tough to consider rolling up our sleeves, marching out to the garage, chucking it all into a dumpster and hauling it away. That almost feels like we’d be tossing away a portion of ourselves in the process. The things we own and save morph into imagined physical expressions of who we think we are. Surrogate alter-egos rather than true selves.
Most of us unknowingly practice a form of sympathetic magic the same kind of ritual that people often made fun of in older native/indigenous cultures that believed inanimate “things” possessed special powers. We like to invest the objects we own/save with power. We try to park our life force in them. We confuse the thing with the emotion. The stuff for the meaning. The item for the memory. Like “it” resides out there instead of inside us.
I have yet to meet anyone who was able to confront the little voice in their head saying “wait, I might need that someday” before summoning up the energy to get rid of most of their old baggage, who didn’t feel much lighter and happier afterwards. Maybe freedom is just another word for nothing left to keep.