October 2010

small closet & wardrobe

Editor’s note: This is a guest post by Katie Tallo. Katie writes about simple, joyful life change at Momentum Gathering.

My father-in-law is 84. He lived in a three-bedroom bungalow for the last 30 years, filling every nook and cranny with a lifetime’s worth of stuff. When his wife died last year, he found himself alone with no one to cook for or sit beside. All that was left was a house full of memories and stuff.

The memories just reminded him of his loss and the stuff he couldn’t maintain. He decided to move to a small apartment in a retirement home – to simplify life. Someone else would now cook the meals, wash the dishes, clean, shovel the snow, rake the leaves and put out the garbage. He could make new friends. He took a few pieces of furniture, his stamp collection, his favorite pictures, books and a few dishes. He has ended up where he began – a bachelor with just a few essentials. The rest?

Well, the rest was a ton of odds and ends, nicks and nacks bought, made and received over the course of eight decades in the life of two people. It took months to sort, box, trash, give away, sell and disperse. In the end, it was just a mountain of stuff.

I found myself wondering what the point of it all was – all this accumulating. Here was all this stuff that no one really wanted – that had little value in the end. It wasn’t what made his house a home – his marriage was.

Why do most of us amass so much stuff? Stuff that’s often boxed and packed in the basement, stacks in closets, piled in attics and teetering on the rafters of the garage, rarely opened. What is it that makes us surround ourselves, fill our spaces and continue to want more stuff even when there’s no room or need for more? We envision hoarders as crazy people, but most of us are hoarders. We’re just neat about it. We hide it well. We tuck it away where no one can see it, but likely we couldn’t count the number of things we own. Likely we have a mountain of stuff.

So why did we build this heap in the first place and why do we continue to pile more and more stuff on top of it? The answer lies in the word S-T-U-F-F. [click to continue…]

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