Getting stuffed and decluttering

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packing boxThis winter we inherited even more stuff than the stuff we have eliminated in the last 6 years.  Our ongoing attempts to remain minimalist materialists and assume a lifestyle commensurate with conscious living means constant pruning, purging and donating. But this winter we found ourselves as owners of lots of boxes of second hand stuff, stuff that evoked nostalgia and grief.

At first we simply stored the stuff because opening the boxes would mean looking at familiar stuff, stuff that had belonged to two people we dearly loved who are now gone. Now and then we would open one peek in and pull out a memento that led  to laughter and/or tears and then put it back and close the box.

The space is small and the boxes occupied much of it. Worse still our curiosity drew us to open the boxes more and more frequently renewing the cycle of grief. The boxes of stuff held power over us because we endowed them with the power to draw us near (attachment) or to send us scurrying away (aversion).

Well, this weekend I had had enough of the tyranny of the  stuff. I recognized the machinations of attachment and aversion at work within both myself and my husband  and decided we ought to open every box and keep only “the useful stuff”. My beloved agreed and we sprang into action.

He opened each and every box and spilled the contents onto the floor. I cleared a space in the midst of the spilled stuff and sat a large wicker basket in the center of it. Then we began to systematically examine every bit of stuff piece by piece. Items we chose to keep went into the wicker basket and all the rest went back into the box. We sorted through box after box and as each one filled I taped it shut and he carried it out to the truck.

Throughout the sorting process we discussed the origin of this particular stuff, our personal memories of it  and those who had used it. We also discussed what a polluted and stuffed-up world we lived in and how many had sacrificed and continue to sacrifice to feed the North American drive for more and more stuff.  We discussed how we have come to judge people based on the amount of  useless stuff they can afford to purchase because the true costs are not reflected in the price tags.  Then we listed all the businesses, government, advertisers, corporations we would like to tell to stuff it!

Many boxes later it was Sunday and we had one empty box and a wicker basket filled with memorabilia of questionable usefulness. We asked each other: “Do we really need the stuff in the basket?” The answer of course was  “no”. Stuff may remind us of our friends and times gone by but we don’t need it and if anyone else can find an actual use for it then why should we keep it?

The final box was filled on Sunday and we delivered it yesterday to the recycling center along with all the others. As we drove home again we discussed how each of us had quietly accumulated extraneous stuff in our closets, cupboards and drawers that we ought to purge. By the time we drove down the driveway we had decided to embark on a program of doing a little spring cleaning every day.

Last night while going through some bookmarks I had accumulated on my computer I  found some that were directly related to “stuff”. This video below was the top bookmark and after the two of us watched the video, we wept and we hugged, then as we cradled each other and rocked away our blues we re-committed our lives to simple living.

I decided it was time for me to come let go of my attachment to grief, come alive again and start posting to this blog.

Story of Stuff, Full Version; How Things Work, About Stuff

Declutter 101: Where Do I Start?
Declutter 101: Strategies To Cut Clutter
Declutter 101: Staying Clutter-Free