October 08, 2006

Measuring Your Life By Stuff

In preparation for my move to California, I have gong through my entire home and everything in it. I have found many surprising items. Here is a partial inventory of what I found:

6 unopened packages of cocktail napkins
2 guitars
25 boxes of matches
1 mask made of junk mail (that's no typo)
1 roll of hockey tape
2 pairs of Smith "blade" sunglasses (90's style)
1 Duncan Imperial yo-yo
1 gas can
hundreds of screws, washers and nuts
Numerous framed prints, photos and posters, many in bubble wrap
1 giant package of industrial steel wool
2 unopened dead bolt locks
3 wool overcoats
2 water pistols
2 identical blue fleeces, in addition to 3 others
1 unopened light dimmer switch
1 cowboy hat
1 antique English pickle jar

Where did this stuff come from? Why do I have it? What did it it do for me? The answer is, I don't know, I don't know, and nothing. Over the years, I must have simply seen things I liked and acquired them. I must have thought that each thing would accomplish something or make me feel a certain way. That rarely happened. At the same time, I hung on to things I already had, unless they broke, shrunk or wore out. Thus, I became caught in the materialism squeeze.

Coincidentally, over the past year or so, I have been rejecting materialism right and left. It has dawned on me that things only have value if they are truly utilitarian, truly asthetic or truly sentimental. What's funny is the defensive reaction I get from some people when I share my thoughts on materialism. This is similar to the reaction I received when I told people some years ago that I had quit drinking. These are things that I have done simply to feel more healthy all around, without planning them in advance. I have not told anyone that they should follow my lead.

The next time I see something I like, I will think twice about purchasing it. More importantly, the next time I reject something, I will think three times about telling others.


At 1:15 PM, Blogger Jamy said...

Sounds like the reaction I get when I travel without a camera. People can't believe it and then feel judged.

At 2:50 PM, Blogger Matt said...

Ok, now that's ridiculous. Just kidding! Having about 6 giant photo albums plus a box of loose photos plus a computer full of digital photos plus several cd-roms full of photos, I can see the utility, not to mention the benefit to your descriptive powers, of simply taking pictures with your mind's eye.


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