- 11 Magazines
- 5 Styrofoam cups
- Word Count Map — haven’t updated it in almost a year
- Hospital arm band
- 4 Post it Pads
- Stack of out of date coupons
- Red nose
- Ecig box
- A lock–I don’t even know where it came from.
- A magnet too weak to hold a note card
Twenty-seven things, and this week was just my scrambling to get the things together. I REFUSED to miss another week.
I also cleaned out my refrigerator, which I didn’t count, and got rid of even more medicine bottles. Also not counted.
The cups, another holdover from my mother (did you know styrofoam cups can be washed through the dishwasher once or twice?). The post-its, accidental thievery from work–they will be returned on my next day back. Why on earth would I keep a hospital arm band? I mean, really? It’s not like it’s a nostalgic time I want to re-experience.
I am coming face-to-face with my waste, and it’s a bit shocking, to be honest. I am really starting to understand why I feel as if I never have any money–it’s being spent on half-eaten food, shoved to the back of the refrigerator, a magazine subscription that was a “free” trial, and I was too lazy or forgetful to cancel it.
I don’t think I even read any of the magazines.
It’s being spent on notebook after notebook, scattered around (and now being piled in the office until I go through them). Half-written, half-focused, notes from a class merged with to-do lists merged with letters I started writing but never finished. Clothes that “almost” fit that I never wore once I could fit in them. So on and so forth.
I look around, and instead of seeing stuff that makes my house “mine,” I see more stuff to dust, more stuff to move around, more stuff I don’t want to take care of yet don’t want to lose. My drum, for example. I can’t even think of parting with it, and yet I never play it. It’s a pain in the ass to dust.
But still I cling.
This is a process, I know. But I want a tidy and organized house. I want to have less shit to deal with. I want less waste and more efficiency.
I want I want I want.
I guess I’m getting there.
What I’ve discovered is that stuff isn’t just stuff. If it were, it’d be easy to get rid of. For me, it’s about memories, about identity, about security and control. It’s about letting go of the need to remember moments when life seemed brighter, or more honestly–to in the past. The stuff is representative of my need to identify myself by the things I own and the things I remember. I’ve never considered myself materialistic, and, yet, I have drums and books and tie-dyed this and that which have become part of how I present: I’ve read these books. I play this drum. I am a hippie, see, I have tie-dye!
It’s about a certain amount of security I’ve attached to having certain things.
After Katrina, it was so easy. Most things had been swept away. There wasn’t indecision or suffering with choices; those had been taken care of for me, literally swept away down the river. There was a bit of mourning and moving on. “It’s just stuff,” I said, proud that I had let go, even as I unwittingly began the process of collecting more stuff.
Stuff isn’t just stuff. Maybe it’s never just stuff. But clearing out is one of the best things I’ve ever done in my life. It’s been–and continues to be–transformative. And I am ever, ever so grateful that my dear friend started before me, inspiring me to begin my own journey.