Saturday, February 1, 2014

Day 153: Too Much Stuff

I own so much.

When I walked back into my room after forty days touring Europe, that’s what I was struck with.

The backpack, shoulder bag, and suitcase? Mine.

The five stuffed animals on the bed? Mine.

The ten pairs of shoes, dozen dresses, and twenty sweaters? Mine.

The stacks of paper on the dresser. The books on the floor. The artwork on the walls. Mine.

The stuff hidden in the drawers, or under the bed, or in the kitchen cupboards. All mine.

After spending nearly six weeks living out of a suitcase measuring 25x40x55cm, walking into my room crowded with my stuff was a little shocking. What was more shocking was the realization that what’s here in Scotland isn’t even half of what I own.

There are two huge boxes at home that I packed away when I first moved out. Two more boxes and a filing cabinet at ‘my’ house in Ontario. Another half dozen boxes of stuff that couldn’t come to Scotland abandoned at my parent’s house. Scattered clothing at friends’ houses.

I’m twenty years old—I haven’t had decades to accumulate things. I’m a poor student—I don’t have the money to shop compulsively. Yet, I have so much stuff that it more than fills my car, trunk and backseat and all.

Why? How? What’s the point?

My biggest stress last May, when I was moving out of my Ontario apartment, was trying to pack up everything. I grabbed three armloads of boxes from the local supermarket, yet still needed to go back a few days later for more.

As I packed the boxes that would stay in Ontario, I realized that I wouldn’t see the contents again for a year and a half. Now, nearly nine months after packing those boxes, I can only guess at about five items in them. There’s a craft a friend made for me, a piece of pottery I painted… and a whole bunch of other things that I just can’t remember.

Yet, I stressed over getting that stuff packed. I lugged it to Ontario. I carried it to another house. I let it take up space in my friend’s basement. Finally in September I’ll go back to it and I don’t even know what I’m going to find.

It’s ridiculous. I don’t want to have my life spread across the world in the form of boxes filled with forgotten junk. I don’t want to spend my precious hours caring for stuff that has no purpose whatsoever.

I probably thought it had sentimental value. Yeah, maybe. But how sentimental is it when I can’t even remember what it is?

Maybe it’ll be useful someday. But really, if I haven’t wanted it in nine months, it’s probably not that vital to my existence.

Something has to change.

I don’t know how I’m going to cut down on the stuff in my life. Obviously, there’s not a lot I can do from here, across the ocean from most of my possessions. (And no, Mum, don’t take matters into your own hands and burn my boxes—if you destroy the binder of stories I wrote when I was ten, I will probably throw a shoe through the wall)

What I do know is that I don’t need so much stuff. I can survive with a carry-on sized suitcase. I can return to a room with only a quarter of my stuff and still feel overwhelmed by how much I own.

I have so much more than I will ever need. And I’m thankful for that. I’m thankful that I’ve been given so much.

But all this stuff has become more of a chore than a privilege. I think my time here has shown me than it needs to go.

When I get back to Canada, serious decluttering is happening. Hold me to that, internets. 

1 comment:

  1. I just popped by to check out your blog. Your mom recommends it once in a while. :) I love the way you write about your experiences. You'll have to make a book out of your blog someday for posterity.
    Oh, and I do understand about the stuff. I've had that feeling often. I declutter every time, and still find I must declutter again a month later.