I have stuff, more than enuff stuff. I like spelling it like that. But word play aside, I realized we accumulate a lot of material possessions over the years. I blogged about this from another angle, one of having too much versus sending yourself the wrong message, in The Consumerism Closet Conundrum.
I moved recently. I seem to be repeating that a lot. But the truth is it was a major undertaking. Never mind the move to a city I’ve never lived in that’s hours away from where I was, leaving my job, deciding to write and paint full time, there was the actual transporting of stuff. A lot of stuff.
So I began to wonder how it got this way. I don’t have anything particular like a huge home gym, or an art collection. I can’t pinpoint one thing. It’s just a lot of everything: clothes, kitchen items, food, shoes and boots, decorative items. Several of the same thing: I own three sewing machines (albeit all different) and for some reason three kitchen tables (OK, one is a dining room set and one the kitchen table and the other is now used as a craft table in the basement). I have several of the same item, especially in the makeup and toiletries department. It’s embarrassing. Moreover it’s hard to justify.
Moving Means an Unintentional Inventory
But moving has been an unwitting chance to take a look at myself, at least on the material plane. I have enuff clothes to last me for the rest of my life. And shoes. I have dishes I never use and wine glasses I haven’t used in years. I’ve vowed to stop saving stuff. To stop thinking it’s too precious. Life is precious.
But still I wondered, why is it we have so many things? And why several of the same thing? Because it’s easy to obtain? Because we get a momentary high before the novelty wears off? Because we’ve become super fussy and want different versions of the same thing?
It was as I was preparing my cats for the trip that it hit me. They don’t have any stuff. And the stuff they do have has been bought by, you guessed it, humans. Humans are the only animals who have stuff, need stuff, require stuff. Cars, houses, clothes, cell phones, gadgets galore. The list goes on and on. We want our water in bottles and the bottles to be pretty. We want those cool runners in six different colors. We don’t just want the thing, we want myriad versions of the thing so we can choose. We have accumulated a wealth of material objects, but why? Do we really need all the things we have? I have friends who have given away garbage bags full of clothes and other items. So have I. We have so much stuff we don’t even use it all.
I’ve been taught to evaluate what I need from a financial standpoint. Like me you’ve probably been told to ask yourself the question, “Do I really need this?” Is it a need or a want? But here’s another way I began to see it, when considering that human animals are the only ones who require material objects. What is the impact on the environment? Our constant hunger for things, more, newer, shinier, means manufacturing them. Materials must be harvested from the earth, factories built, machines made in the same way the object we want is made. Again, we are the only animals who do this. Our imprint on the planet is huge. We gobble up stuff and want more. We’re never satisfied.
So What Do We Do?
I don’t have an answer. Maybe reducing our consumption is a good place to start. Maybe using what we have instead of going into hyper-fuss mode and wanting another version or style. I’ve always felt there was something obscene with having so many material possessions when people in other parts of the world can’t get enough to eat. You might be thinking, ‘Gee, Rosie, did you just arrive on the planet?’ No, and I’ve been conscious of this for a long time. But it never hit me quite so clearly that we are making somewhat of a mess of things, and creating a lot of inequality at the same time. Maybe it’s Neptune squaring my natal Neptune.
Regardless, that’s what I wanted to share this week. If you have a solution please tell me and the rest of the world. If not, let’s keep doing our best.