Things tend to accumulate until you can hardly navigate around them. You don’t have to be a hoarder to experience the feeling of being enclosed and trapped by your things. Che Guevara used to steal from Francis Bacon and call children hostages to society but your things can be just as confining.

As I sit here, I am surrounded by stuff I probably don’t need but which I am loathe to give up. The list begins with books but hardly stops there. Periodically, like all bibliophiles, I go through the stacks looking for those few volumes I can afford to give away. Too often they have special meaning. Not yet read but I am sure I will someday, for example. Who am I kidding? If I haven’t read it in ten years why do I think I will read it in the next ten or, if I have that long, the next twenty.

Yet there they sit, staring at me with their sad puppy dog eyes (especially the military SF) daring me to put them on the curb.

But books are only the beginning. Like every man who ever lived I have dozens of t-shirts that no longer fit but which represent some special stage in my life. A passage or a trip or a sporting event. To part with them would be like carving out a square inch of memory-containing brain tissue. By the way, if your wives or girlfriends bug you about your t-shirts, just ask them about their shoes.

It is everywhere; I have things stored in boxes which I don’t even know about. I have stuff shoved in cupboards, not because I have any use for it but kept it only because it was a present from someone – though often I can’t quite remember who.

I have CDs I never play, DVDs I never watch. And besides the t-shirts I have a lot of clothes I never wear. It is like the baggage of my life taken material form. Hell, I even have baggage I keep in the storage room in case I ever need that impossibly large suitcase for some sort of endless world journey to places that don’t have washing facilities.

Stuff begins to weigh you down. I sometimes discuss with my wife the idea of living somewhere else for four months or six. But inevitably it comes down to the question of where we will put all our stuff. Will it survive in storage? Could we trust renters (if we simply abandon our condo to others) not to destroy or steal it? And what about the condo itself? Nothing sometimes but a gilded cage to hold our stuff. And us.

Che Guevera also used to say property is theft. And he may have been right. But not quite in the way he meant it. Sometimes property steals your freedom – locks you in an ever growing prison of possession. Maybe it’s time for the revolution! Time to abandon all things!

But first I have to see if there is another book I can part with.

And that’s ten minutes.


One thought on “Stuff

  1. There was a time when I’d have disagreed with you on this point. Now? I’m not so sure.

    But rather than send some of that stuff to landfill or recyclers, I’d prefer to find good homes. That runs the risk of stealing time to the extent of becoming a full-time vocation – not career – in itself.


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