The Stuff That Weighs Us Down

I’ve been on a bit of a rampage lately, throwing everything I can get my hands on right out the front door. It’s the perfect storm of spring cleaning, packing to move, and that funny nesting thing pregnant women do. Darren has been keeping a close eye on everything he loves as I’m likely to throw it all away when he isn’t looking.

I’ve felt so weighed down by stuff lately. It seems my soul has gotten a bit tangled in all the material things we think we need and I’m trying to cut the cords and run free. Our house is packed full, busting at the seams and neither of us ever seem to know where anything is.

I’ve been sorting through closets and under beds and emptying drawers and pulling stuff out of every black hole in the house trying to get things packed and organized for our big move at the end of the summer. There are piles everywhere—piles to give away, throw away, and pack away for another day. And with every bag and box I pack I wonder why do we own all this stuff anyway? And heaven help us, why do we keep buying more?

“Do not trouble yourself much to get new things, whether clothes or friends. Turn the old; return to them. Things do not change; we change. Sell your clothes and keep your thoughts… Superfluous wealth can buy superfluities only. Money is not required to buy one necessary of the soul.” -Thoreau

For everything I throw out, more baby stuff rolls in and I’m always trying to find a balance between preparing the things we need for a little one and not letting myself get carried away by the truly endless number of things that can be bought for a baby. I keep reminding myself that women have brought children into this world and successfully raised them since time began—without most of the baby stuff that is now considered indispensable. I have a list I run through in my head when I’m trying to decide what to buy and what to do without—does he have what he needs to be fed, diapered, clothed, and put to sleep? If yes then what else is truly essential apart from my own ability to love and care for him outside of material things? It’s a question I’ve had to weigh over and over again as I’ve struggled with wanting more and more stuff.

I don’t think you ever fully realize how much you already have until you’re faced with the task of packing and moving every shred of it to another place. I keep finding stuff I forgot I even owned, clothes I haven’t worn in years—buried beneath all the new ones I’ve gathered but certainly didn’t need. For every forgotten thing I’ve pulled out of the closet abyss I’ve had to ask myself—if you haven’t used this item in all this time, do you really need it? Are material things worth gathering and holding onto if they are crowding our lives and weighing us down? It feels like a waste to throw or give something away that I once spent money on and yet is it not a bigger waste to crowd my life and soul with the weight of unnecessary material things?

“I do believe in simplicity. It is astonishing as well as sad, how many trivial affairs even the wisest thinks he must attend to in a day; how singular an affair he thinks he must omit. When the mathematician would solve a difficult problem, he first frees the equation of all encumbrances, and reduces it to its simplest terms. So simplify the problem of life, distinguish the necessary and the real. Probe the earth to see where your main roots run. ” -Thoreau

This packing and purging is good for me because it shows me how much I have and how much more I don’t need. It’s easy with moving into a new, bigger home to think that every room needs to be filled with more new stuff. But packing up piece by piece what we already have and thinking through the example we will soon be to our son has made me realize how careful I need to be in the way I deal with money and possessions. Like most anything, money and possessions aren’t bad by themselves—but they can be if they are allowed to become a hindrance rather than a help. I have to ask myself if the possessions I own rather possess and own me. Do these things serve me or am I a servant to them?

“Amid a world of noisy, shallow actors it is noble to stand aside and say, ‘I will simply be.’’’ -Thoreau

4 thoughts on “The Stuff That Weighs Us Down

  1. A simple life is a good life, nothing at all wrong with having “stuff” as long as the “stuff” doesn’t have you and you can truly enjoy said “stuff” instead of stuffing the “stuff” away in a closet. 🙂 We learned to quickly sort through a lifetime of accumulation during our move from the farm to our apartment..23 years worth of “stuff” to go through in a very short time and moving in a snow storm will quickly bring light to what needs to go and what needs to stay. Anxious to see how the new house fills with love and laughter as Baby Moose and Katniss help you and Darren settle in.

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    • Even though I’m ready to settle somewhere long-term, all the moving we’ve done has helped me go through and reflect on what we really need and what is better to let go of. I hope our home will be filled with love, warmth, people, laugher…not just pretty things.

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