Saturday, October 6, 2012

Do You Own Things Or Do They Own You?

Well, I promised to catch you up on some of the more interesting things going on here in my world.  I think that I will make this a series of posts.  There honestly is too much stuff to just stuff it into one post.  Plus, I think it would be good for me to try and write shorter posts.

Our house is up for sale and we are moving.  So, there is a lot of sorting going on right now.  A decision has been made that we are NOT lugging all of this junk again.  So, a great deal of stuff is going to the church yard sale on Oct. 20.  Some stuff is taking a direct trip to the trash.  And then there is creative repackaging.  That is my way of storing all of my DVDs in cake boxes vs the original packaging so that I can now store them in a drawer or closet.  For those of you not familiar with the term "cake box," it is just the plastic circular storage box that holds DVDs.  It has nothing to do with actual cake.  Although I am now hungry for cake.  I hate how the human brain works.

I have been putting off going through my closet.  I actually tackled shoes and purses already.  Who knew I had so many shoes?  Or purses?  Aacchh.  I am still in mourning over so many of my size small cute tops that I pitched when we moved here and I now wish I had.  But, I am going to pitch anything that doesn't actually fit, because it is too big, and call it a day.  I have boxes of clothes in so many sizes that you wouldn't believe it.  And pretty much all of my "dressy" clothes are from a previous life.  They are about to be history.  However, since I pretty much live in my pajamas, who am I freaking kidding?  Oh yeah, that would be my mom.

Then there are my college clothes that I don't want to part with that have those "cool" logos on them.  And I liked my clothes "oversized" then and I was about 10-15 pounds heavier then.  But, it is memorabilia.  And this is why I dread the clothes sort.

I first read a book called RIDE THE WIND by Lucia St. Clair Robson, that was a historical fiction loosely based around the true story of Cynthia Ann Parker and the Comanche Indians, back in the early 90s.  I was fascinated by the story itself, the attention to detail on the Comanche ways, etc.  I took away more than I can even begin to tell you in one posting from that book.  But the thing that is hanging with me today is the understanding that they had about material possessions: you don't own things ; things own you.  It was a fundamental belief that Native Americans had about ownership that the white man didn't comprehend at that time. Europeans came to America for a piece of land that they could call their own.  And the Native Americans didn't understand land ownership.  Land was never meant to be owned.  It was a core value that they simply didn't share.  You stayed on one piece of land too long and you drained it of its resources.  If you didn't buy it and title it, you didn't have anything to call yours.  Buy it from who?  And round and round it went.

Sitting where I do, I see both sides of that argument.  I also see that the Native Americans are right about things owning you.  The less you have, the less you have to lug around.  The less you have to sort.  It seems like more is better because everyone wants it.  But is it really?  Or are we just conditioned to think more is better?

When have you been happier?  When you've had more or less?  Or did it matter?  Is the problem when we make our happiness contingent on things?  In other words, if you need the things... that is the time you absolutely should get rid of them.  Because happiness only will come from within.

image found on facebook.... so shocking


  1. first time visiting/commenting on your blog. Good luck with your move! Wise idea not to take everything with you and to downsize and declutter before you move.

    To answer your question posed at the end of your blog, I can tell you I have been miserable this past 20 months living in hubby's parents' home (they have subsequently passed but we moved in here before they passed, amongst their abundance of stuff while they were in assisted living). Living in clutter with no space to move around or barely a path to walk was not my idea of fun. Slowly but surely we are reducing things and have gotten rid of, sold, or given away over 20,000 pounds of things of theirs. I'm definitely happier being with less. Conversely when we moved from Montana back to Southern California six years ago, we moved 6600 pounds of things and I thought that was too much.

    And I agree that happiness comes from within. Hubby's parents needed their things; their things defined them, their status among their friends, etc. That to me was so sad about it all. They couldn't bear to part with things and it did cause a very big strain on my and hubby's relationship and marriage.

    Again, good luck with your move!


  2. Happiness tends to come when we stop worrying about the things we can't control and holding on to things as if they are talismans that hold the memories. The memories reside within. It doesn't make it easier to part with things, even with knowing that...because essentially it means letting go of the physical remnants of the past...and that can be especially difficult if the past was a happier time. Having hope that happier times are in the future is a good insurance policy against clutter. Think of this as making room for new things, not getting rid of old ones.

  3. Having been a nomad for most of the year before this past one, I learned a very important lesson about whether I own things or they own me. I had seasonal clothes with me at most of the places I stayed. My books - including beloved cookbooks - were in boxes I couldn't readily access. I couldn't use my own dishes or cookware at the apartment of a friend who keeps kosher. It was a stressful time, but a valuable one. I learned which items really, really matter - the books/cookbooks, the clothes/jewelry that show my style (or lack thereof!), and family pictures. That's pretty much it. Passion, basic necessity, sentiment. So your old college clothes definitely count in that! And it's surprising to find what we really don't need, or even want, when faced with the decision ....

  4. I am truly happy with experiences. The memories are so strong and I don't have to lug stuff around to help me to remember.
    This past couple of years as I have truly pared down in preparation for a cross country move I have enjoyed being free of a lot of things and have been more clear about which items I truly do enjoy owning.
    As a kid, my world went from moving 16 times in my first 9 years and actually owning very little to living in a home that turned into a large hoard over about 5 years time. I have seen both sides of this issue and can say that while it can be hard to feel grounded when you seemingly have nothing, it can be even worse when 'stuff' seems to be suffocating your very existence. As with most things it's all about balance, isn't it?

  5. Great decision to dump the old stuff. We have moved over thirty times, each time taking only the necessities. It keeps us alive. I do not own anything, nor do things own me. Keep us posted.

  6. When was I the happiest? Hmmm... I think, when my kids were little. I've been sorting through possessions here lately, trying to cull my guitar herd.

    I want to get back to 'less' stuff.

    Stuff weighs us down.


  7. Love the post and I am happiest when we have family get togethers.


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