During the Inside The Actors Studio show featuring the cast of “How I Met Your Mother,” they showed each cast member’s favorite scene. One was the “Bang, Bang, Bangety, Bang” song, a song described as “celebrating procreation.” It was raucous, joyful and fun. It stuck in my head and thinking about this post, I started singing, “Stuff, stuff, stuffety, stuff.”
Celebrating stuff? I think we do it, I know I do it in varying degrees. Advertising, acquisition, accumulation. A boy and his toys. He who dies with the most stuff wins. So much feeds the need to own.
I know a large part of my stuff=security belief comes from having parents who lived through the depression. My mother was very stuff-needy. She shopped and spent. Christmas and birthdays with a big family were good excuses. We had a well stocked pantry, Mom always bought extra, “Just in case.” Both of my parents were extensive collectors. Mom gave away and assigned many things before she died but my father wanted nothing to change so he kept everything and it has taken a full year to deal with all the stuff.
Multiple van-loads of furniture, glassware and collectables went to an antique dealer for sale. Family took some items. Documents from a long closed business were shredded. There were four huge donations pickups. Each week for months, we put out what we could for trash and recycle. Two separate scrap metal pick ups, a few appliances and miscellaneous pieces were ‘freecycled’ and still, it took three large full dumpsters to finish clearing.
My mother kept every card and letter. I gave back my older brother’s letters from Vietnam and my younger brother the cards that came to celebrate his birth, report cards, school work, kid art and a love letter. These had clear assignment and definite value. Very few decisions were so easy. Clearing out has been a long and difficult process, both physically and emotionally.
Attachment to stuff, for me, is a mix of associated memories, plans, potential, regret, status, accomplishment, and proof of worth. What meaning is held in a set of china, in a bookcase filled to overflowing, closets packed with never or barely worn clothes, pillowcases yellowed with age still in their cellophane? How many bedspreads, tablecloths and doilies needed to be crocheted for use, or were they to be proof of existence?
Meaning. The meaning of a life, the purpose of existence, stuff weaves in, out and around our days and nights. Habits, preferences, and rituals, all with our favorite things. How has solid matter in different shapes taken on such importance?
I am a creator. I write, I knit, I make art. I love the process more than the product. Process knitters have many projects started. Ironically, I am great at mass production. This is useful when there is a need, like filling a wholesale order or making Christmas presents for every member of the family. Generally, it is not useful. How many of anything does one need?
But what is there to do? Throwing everything away does not address the reason it was there. Understanding the why’s and how’s of the stuff will dissipate the energies around it and hopefully clear the need for so much.
To help with this process, this sorting, assigning and release of stuff, Kathleen Nelson Troyer is teaching a four week teleclass, “From Clutter to Clarity.”
Kat is leading us through processes to sort out our physical, mental and emotional clutter. I know the same issues run through the clutter in my house, my weight and my questioning my focus on work. I am looking forward to clearing a lot in all the areas.
Information can be found on her site, http://gentlymovingforward.net/
A recorded call about the program can be found at,
I will be on this journey. All are welcome.