Recently, a new building went up in my hometown of Fiddlestix. It’s a big deal when there is any new construction in Fiddlestix. It turned out to be a storage rental business, with a couple of dozen stalls for people to warehouse the stuff that they can’t store at home.
That has come to strike me as odd, that we have so much stuff that we can’t even keep it in our own homes, but need to rent space to store our “overflow stuff”.
C and I rented a storage unit when we first moved here, for we lived in a 2600 sq. ft. home for our family of five back in The Big City. When our last child moved out of the house, we moved to Fiddlestix for a while until we bought and built Windy Hill, a few miles outside of town. The cottage we rented could not hold all our stuff, so we rented a unit to store it all.
When Windy Hill was finished about a year later, we moved into our new, 1100 sq. ft. home. If you do the math, you’ll see that 2600-1100 = 1500. That is 1500 sq. ft. less of homespace than what we had, which means that much of our stuff was not moving in with us.
The thing of it is, after a year of living without much of our stuff, we realized that we did not miss our stuff. In fact, we were hard pressed to recollect all the stuff we stored in the rental unit. A quick look into the unit on a Saturday afternoon told us that many of the things we had would never fit in our new home, and we had not missed them at all anyway. So, why did we have them? What’s more, why were we paying someone to store stuff that we didn’t even miss? This made no sense to us.
We got rid of our storage stuff. It all went, with the exception of a couple of buckets of tools and some pots and pans. Once we dusted off our hands and congratulated ourselves on getting rid of our stuff, we looked around Windy Hill and realized that one of our bedrooms was still full of other stuff. Stuff hiding in plain sight! We decided we wanted to reclaim this extra bedroom, and began to get rid of the “residual stuff” in our new home.
We First-Worlders sure have a lot of stuff. I suppose it is part of being a First-Worlder. We live in a consumer society, and we are afflicted with mega-marketing which sells us stuff at a surprisingly wicked rate. Some experts say that we see about 300 ads per day, if not more, from every source imaginable.
Much of our economy chugs along powered by consumerism, not need. So, we buy a ton of stuff and stuff it in every nook and cranny of our homes, garages, sheds, and now there is a billion-dollar industry to help us store our stuff. Stuff we never need.
I think we have too much stuff. It’s beginning to own us, not the other way around. In essence, I was paying twice for my stuff: once to buy it, then a second time to store it, and I didn’t even need it. This is the point where people start calling their stuff “crap”. Now, I’m a little kinder to my stuff than that. After all, they did exactly what I asked them to do when I bought them, and it wasn’t their fault that I bought more stuff. And they can be someone else’s wonderful stuff when I drop them off at Goodwill. So, there is little need to get all hostile with our stuff by insulting it with the name of crap.
But I think we First-Worlders need to reassess our relationship with stuff. We have too much of it. It’s a waste of money that could go to things like trips, or charity, or education, many things that would give a lot more enjoyment than most stuff. I have few things among my stuff that compares to a trip C & I took to the redwoods in No. California this year. Or the Smoky Mountains a couple of years ago. Or Ireland ten years ago. That stuff is in our heads and hearts. Lots of room there.