It’s okay to have stuff
There. I said it.
It just doesn’t seem like a popular topic these days.
I belong to several online groups about the life changing magic of tidying up, living a simple life, living tiny, and being minimal. I joined one of these groups because I needed help getting my home in order. I joined the others, hoping to find out how people’s lives improved after they tidied. I was looking for inspiration.
But the reality is that just about every post in each of these groups has to do with stuff.
They talk about having too much stuff.
They talk about how they hate their stuff.
They talk about how their partner has too much stuff.
They talk about how they feel guilty about having their stuff.
They want to know exactly how much stuff is ok to have.
They worry about not being minimalist enough, or that their tiny house isn’t tiny enough.
Or worse they criticize others for not being what they themselves can’t be.
I just want to say, for the record, that it really is okay to have stuff and not be angry about it, or frustrated with it, or feel guilty about it.
Everyone needs stuff. We use things everyday. We use tools, we play games, we have hobbies. We need clothing to wear.
So why do we worry so much about the amount of things we have versus our spouse, our neighbors or our friends?
I really think it’s all based on fear. Maybe we are afraid that we are not good enough, by just being who we are. Or maybe we think we want and desire too much. Maybe that’s true, or maybe it isn’t. A lot of us worry about our planet and its sustainability for future generations. It’s a valid concern. Maybe we worry we won’t have enough, for ourselves and for our families.
It can be healthy to have a little fear in our lives. Fear of burning our hand keeps us away from putting our hand on the gas stove. Fear of stepping on a piece of glass, reminds us to wear our shoes.
It’s when we let our fears lead our lives that we get into trouble. Overwhelming fear causes us to hide, to criticize, and to give up. We worry about things we can’t change.
The truth is that we are all different and have unique gifts to share with others. What we need to express those gifts and talents will be different from person to person. So will the amount of physical stuff we have on hand.
It goes without saying that a lot of us can have too much stuff, but I think we need to stop worrying so much about how much people have.
Maybe instead, let’s think about who those people are.
What kind of character do they have?
What strengths do they have?
What can they teach us?
What wisdom have they learned in their life?
And lastly, how are we all the same?
My neighbor, who lives across the street from me, is a person I adore. We have been neighbors for 16 years now. We have been good friends since the day we met. On the outside, he looks like a homeless guy. He wears the same well worn clothes everyday. He has a scruffy beard that goes a good halfway down his face. He doesn’t say a whole lot. And when he does talk, sometimes he tells off color jokes and makes weird comments. His yard looks like a jungle and at last count he has about 8 storage sheds on his property. He reminds me of a junk dealer my Mom knew a long time ago.
Most people would cross to the other side of the street if they saw him coming.
But that is just the outward shell. The neighbor I know gets up early everyday to refill the assortment of tins he has with water for the wild birds. When the wild horses come by, he has piles of cast off apples lined up at the edge of his yard for them to snack on. He took in a stray, semi-feral cat that another neighbor abandoned, gives him daily meals, and created a shelter him to use during the winter months and in bad weather. When I have a yard sale, he is always my first customer. He has given me the most beautiful plants over the years, and I have done the same in return. When our community bank of mailboxes fell down a few years ago in a bad wind storm, he was the one who helped my hubby and I get them back upright. A week later he had a design in hand to make the repair permanent. He always offers me a beer when I visit his home and gives me a tour of his eclectic new treasures and projects. It’s cluttered, but he has everything organized. He is always interesting, always content with his life and generally happy.
He is a kind and generous man. He is also a man with a lot of stuff. The two things seem compatible. He knows what he has, takes care of it, and can find the odd item in a pinch. He lives a full and interesting life.
Who am I to say that his life would be better with less stuff?