Thursday, January 19, 2012

The Weird Science of "Stuff"

Newton developed Three Laws of Motion.  George Carlin had a comedic routine about “Stuff”.  Somehow the two of them missed what seems to be a corollary about the science of stuff.  Here it is:  “The stuff you accumulate grows in direct proportion to the amount of space you have in which to house it.” 

Here’s the problem with that fact.  We have two homes, and are preparing to downsize to one.  We will soon be faced with figuring out how to deal with 4,000 square feet of stuff in 2,000 square feet. Obviously, the only way to do this is to get rid of a bunch of stuff.  We did this in 2008 when we moved from our large home in Memphis to the smaller condo in Chicago.  It was brutal.  We gave things away, we sold stuff, and we threw away mountains of crapola.  One would think we would have learned some sort of lesson.  Yet here we are, about to embark on the same journey of angst over stuff.

Accumulation happens innocently enough as a result of living in two homes.  You want to make a meatloaf, and have no meatloaf pan.  You start playing golf but have no clothes appropriate for the course dress code.  Furniture from Chicago can’t be moved to Prescott while we are spending months at a time in both places.  So now we have “enough” to be comfortable in each home – which means we have too much.

We know how to do this.  Furniture not destined for Prescott will be sold or given away.  Old paperwork will be shredded.  Clothes that don’t fit or haven’t been worn lately will be bagged and taken to the Salvation Army.  But which dishes and glasses will we keep?  What chains of bondage to sentimental items will we have the strength to break?  How completely can we embrace the next chapter of our lives without being hampered by moving too much stuff?

It’s painful to dismantle a comfortable home built over the years.  But I believe the more we look ahead rather than behind, the happier we can be with our lives.  I want people and love around me.  The “stuff” I can leave behind.

Anybody need a meatloaf pan?

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