As we began to filter through empty stockings, piles of paper and the remnants of Christmas, I discovered my forgotten phone, buried under the cheery rubble.
It was so nice not having it, I decided on the following day to just put the phone away.
Most of us are attached to our stuff. Our phones are always nearby. Our computers are nearby, ready to answer emails, check Facebook, and immerse us in online escapism.
Besides the electronic madness that controls our daily lives, we are surrounded by stuff. We are buried by more stuff than we can ever use in our lifetime, and our children will suffer after our passing, as they sort through all the stuff, wondering why we kept so much.
I was caring recently for a dear friend who has become quite ill. While sitting by her side, holding her hand, massaging her feet and reassuring her, I noticed that she was surrounded by stuff. Piles and piles of clothes, papers, knick-knacks and tchotchke. It was overwhelming, to think about her imminent passing and the responsibility of wading through all of that stuff.
When I got home after one particularly stressful day, I began sorting through my file drawers. I wasn’t looking for anything in particular, but I decided to look through every single piece of paper, and honestly assess the value and necessity of each.
Although I’m not a hoarder, I tend to hold on to special notes from people I love, as well as clippings and pictures from magazines. After a couple of hours, I was astonished at the pile of papers headed to the recycle bin. When I honestly looked at all those papers, it turned out that most of them were not essential to my daily life. Most of them had no real purpose, other than to keep my file cabinets brimming with paper.
With a proud sense of accomplishment, I closed the mostly empty file drawers and wondered for a moment why I need such a large file cabinet anyway. Now that it’s empty, it seems redundant. However, it does make a good television stand.
Although it was getting late, I was energized by all that purging and I began cleaning out my drawers.
It is amazing, how attached we can become to things like clothes. I had a closet full of clothes of a variety of different sizes. Some are too small, waiting in vain for me to lose just enough weight. Some are way too big, just in case I get fat. Some are from long ago, with emotional baggage attached. I began yanking clothes out of drawers, off of hangers and throwing them into a bag with reckless abandon.
It was freeing, to release so much stuff. Now, when I walk through the house, one eye is on what I can get rid of next.
I don’t want to die at 111, surrounded by junk. I want to be surrounded by people who love me. Most of the stuff we accumulate and refuse to part with has some emotional significance to us, but to no one else.
Instead of filling our lives with more and more stuff, perhaps we should acquire experiences. We don’t need more stuff. What we need is more love, more passion and more fun. When we fill our lives with experience, our need to be surrounded by belongings will diminish.