Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Stuff


This weekend, my 14 year old asked me why he’s only allowed two pairs of running shoes - one for school, as required for his uniform, and the other for everything else – when so many other people he knows have a different pair for every outfit. My response? It's unnecessary and wasteful. And although I'm pretty sure he's still at least halfway convinced I’m just really cheap, on another level, I know he gets it... and either way, that is that.

Just because we can have something, doesn't mean we should. Yet living when and where we do, exposed to such an unlimited wealth of material possibilities, it's often very difficult to know where to draw the line. So when is enough, enough? And why do so many of us feel compelled to surround ourselves with so much "stuff"?

In some cases, I think it stems from an ingrained need to "keep up with the Joneses" - in fear of being judged less worthy. In other instances, it’s simply the excitement of acquiring the latest greatest thing driving us. And if we can afford it in that moment we think, “Why not?” But the reality of all this stuff we collect is that it's bogging us down; it's cluttering our minds, our homes and eventually, our landfills.

While I am certainly no paragon of anti-clutter virtue, I love the idea of home as a sanctuary containing only those things truly necessary to happiness and wellbeing. To this end, I am trying hard not to make so many impulse purchases and to be more aware of what my family and I need, versus what we may want, for a whole assortment of unimportant reasons. And if it turns out that this new way of living makes it easier to put the kids through college, then that’s all the better!

12 comments:

Brian Miller said...

this is a great convo to have with kids...we live in a gluttonous world where kids are exposed to others that get whatever they want because their parents us things to appease the love they are not giving...breath, ok sorry for the rant...

and good to see you!

Larry said...

I totally agree with you and I'm sure your son understands.

Tabitha Bird said...

I think this is an excellent way to live and I try to do the same.

Felicitas said...

Hi Brian - Yes, I think this generation of parents probably has tried to compensate more for lack of quality time. But in all of our defence, I think we generally put more pressure on ourselves to be the kind of parents ours maybe never knew how to be. But showering kids with material goods in the hope of buying their happiness is not the way to go.

Felicitas said...

Hi Larry - I'm very lucky to have two well grounded boys. We rarely have to explain this sort of thing to either of them. They know they can't measure our love for them by material possessions. And they also understand the importance of showing respect for the planet.

Felicitas said...

Hi Tabitha - As difficult as it is to remember to tread lightly on the Earth, more and more of us are trying and I'm sure all of us together are having an impact.

Sherry said...

Hi Felicitas -

Thank you for the thoughts/prayers for us! Your post is very timely for me...I've been minimizing my life for the past month...giving away, selling and trashing "stuff". I've always been a somewhat uncluttered person, but it tends to sneak up on you. My father was a true "hoarder" and after he passed away in 06', the process of cleaning up the mess was unbelievable. I may start a business organizing people.

Hope you have a wonderful weekend!

~Sherry~

Paul C said...

Wonderful post about stuff and clutter. Like cheap food which can just add on pounds, there is a lot of cheap stuff out there for people who are born to shop.

Sir Thomas said...

this is a wonderful blog, and has some very good questions. Its going to make landfill one way or another so why not with me? But that still does not address the problem of whyin the first place...
well I so see voth scopes here and it does bog me down also from time to time and the longer we live the more it does it... i mean try to move to another home.... oh yuck!
I think maybe we are just spoiled and need to live in something much smaller, in fact so small all we can do is come home to eat, sleep and well you know...

Felicitas said...

Hi Sherry - I think releasing clutter is very freeing. I always feel better after dropping things off at Goodwill or The Salvation Army. But looking around my home and only seeing things I really love and use feels the best!

Felicitas said...

Hi Paul - You're right: there's alot of temptation out there. That's why we really have to think before we act, and have a little self-discipline!

Felicitas said...

I so agree, Thomas. Less is more. And there is certainly nothing wrong with being cozy!